DUP worry lockdown could stop them voting against abortion reform

Their obsession is out of step with the Northern Irish public.

As the Leader of the House of Commons Jacob Rees-Mogg set out how Parliament would work during the coronavirus lockdown, he was interrupted by a Democratic Unionist Party MP with what he saw as an urgent question.

“What I need Mr Speaker from the Leader of the House [Rees-Mogg] is an assurance on the record that under no circumstances would any member of this house be disenfranchised and prevented from voting against abortion,” said Jim Shannon.

Shannon said he wasn’t technically minded and had only learned how to text two years ago. So he was concerned he wouldn’t be able to be involved in delegated legislative committees.

The DUP has long opposed the decriminalisation of abortion. In July 2019 though, the UK Parliament voted for abortion to be decriminalised in Northern Ireland.

A poll from November 2018, showed decriminalisation was overwhelmingly popular in Northern Ireland. Around 65% of adults in Northern Ireland supported it. In the UK as a whole, this rises to 81%.

Rees-Mogg said that he hoped MPs would continue to be given free votes on issues like abortion, which means they face less pressure to vote with their party.

Later in the debate, DUP MP Ian Paisley said that MPs should not be stopped from voting because of technological issues like bad wi-fi. Unlike Shannon, he did not mention any particular issues or votes he was concerned about.

There appeared to be less than 20 MPs in Parliament because of the lockdown measures. All MPs were sitting a few metres away from each other.

As you’re here, we have something to ask you. What we do here to deliver real news is more important than ever. But there’s a problem: we need readers like you to chip in to help us survive. We deliver progressive, independent media, that challenges the right’s hateful rhetoric. Together we can find the stories that get lost.

We’re not bankrolled by billionaire donors, but rely on readers chipping in whatever they can afford to protect our independence. What we do isn’t free, and we run on a shoestring. Can you help by chipping in as little as £1 a week to help us survive? Whatever you can donate, we’re so grateful - and we will ensure your money goes as far as possible to deliver hard-hitting news.

Comments are closed.