Irish Christian Leaders Appeal to Parliament

Northern Ireland Should Decide on Abortion

MAYNOOTH, Ireland, MAY 16, 2008 ( Abortion legislation should be a matter for Northern Ireland to decide, not outside political leaders, says Irish Christian leaders.

The leaders of Northern Ireland’s four main churches, Cardinal Seán Brady, archbishop of Armagh and primate of Ireland, Roy Cooper, president of the Methodist Church, John Finlay, moderator of the Presbyterian Church and, Archbishop Alan Harper, Church of Ireland Anglican primate, have written to all Westminster Members of Parliament about proposed abortion legislation in Northern Ireland.

“As leaders of the four main churches in Northern Ireland we wish to support the four leaders of the main political parties in asserting that the law on abortion here should be a matter for the Northern Ireland Assembly,” the statement began.

The leaders continued: “We feel it is important for the government to respect the wishes of the people of Northern Ireland and allow locally elected Members of the Legislative Assembly to take the lead on this issue, especially in light of the debate on abortion that took place in October 2007 when all of the main parties in Northern Ireland signaled their opposition to an extension of the 1967 Abortion Act.

“We would ask that, on this issue, MPs take account of the Northern Ireland political parties, and indeed of the people of Northern Ireland, by voting against any amendments concerning abortion legislation in Northern Ireland.”

“Last year,” the Christian leaders’ concluded, “the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland indicated that he felt the Northern Ireland Assembly is the best forum for discussion of these questions. We wholeheartedly agree with this position and ask that you make every effort to ensure that any future changes to the law on abortion in Northern Ireland are solely the responsibility of the Northern Ireland Assembly.”