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Northern Ireland (Executive Formation etc) Act 2019 Section 3(5)

Part of Deferred Divisions – in the House of Commons at 7:00 pm on 16th October 2019.

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Photo of Robin Walker Robin Walker Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Scotland Office) (jointly with the Northern Ireland Office) 7:00 pm, 16th October 2019

The hon. Lady makes an important point. I can assure her that we have been engaging with a range of organisations, including human rights organisations, women’s organisations and campaigns—[Interruption.] I would perhaps have to write to her with more detail.

Turning to the issue of abortion, one has only to look at the passionate and sincere demonstrations in recent weeks on both sides of this issue to appreciate that it remains a highly sensitive matter in Northern Ireland. I understand that there are many people in Northern Ireland who may, as the hon. Lady says, welcome the change. There are also many who would not. I would prefer, as would the Government, that the Northern Ireland Assembly was considering reforms of Northern Ireland’s abortion law. This is, as I have noted, a highly sensitive devolved issue and as such it would be best addressed by Northern Ireland’s locally elected and locally accountable political representatives.