Equal marriage devolved issue?

MPs vote to extend same sex marriage to Northern Ireland

Belfast Telegraph

Irony Sinn Fein want Westminster to legislate on Northern Ireland, says Donaldson - BelfastTelegraph.co.uk

The DUP has said there is an "irony" in Sinn Fein wanting the British Government to legislate on Northern Ireland matters and Tuesday's move to introduce laws on same-sex marriage will de-incentivise the republican party to restore devolution.

Sinn Fein, however, dismissed the suggestion saying - while it was not their preference - the British Government had a responsibility through the Good Friday Agreement to deliver on rights if the devolved institutions were not working. And it was willing to restore devolution should a deal be agreed.

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Northern Ireland: is same-sex marriage a devolved issue?

By Daniel J. McLaughlin

MPs have voted resoundingly to extend same-sex marriage and abortion rights to Northern Ireland.

The amendments will become law if the devolved government is not restored by October 21.

The DUP believe that Westminster's influence is undermining the institutions of Northern Ireland.

However, Sinn Féin say the British government must act in Stormont's absence.

The Claim

DUP chief whip Sir Jeffrey Donaldson describes the vote in Westminster to extend same-sex marriage and abortion rights as "undermining the political institutions of Northern Ireland", the Irish Times reports.

He told RTE Radio's Morning Ireland that equal marriage and abortion are "sensitive issues" and should have been a matter for the people of Northern Ireland to decide "through their elected representatives".

Donaldson said: "To do it this way is breaking the devolution settlement - that's not the way to make the law.

"Democracy should provide the opportunity for people to make change, and that won't happen if there's no devolved government."

He also told the BBC that the votes meant there was "very little incentive for Sinn Féin to restore devolution".

He said: "It's quite ironic for an Irish republican party to argue that the British Parliament is the proper place to deal with very sensitive legalisation, very sensitive matters.

"[The DUP] believe the purpose of devolution is to allow the different parts of the UK to make laws that are appropriate for that part of the country."

The Counterclaim

However, Sinn Féin has welcomed the vote, although admitting it was not delivered in the way the party would have preferred.

Conor Murphy, the MLA for Newry and Armagh, said there was an onus on the British government to act in Stormont's absence, the Belfast Telegraph reports.

He said: "The government with jurisdiction has a responsibility for delivering rights if the devolved institution is denying those rights.

[The DUP] unfortunately over the last number of years have denied a series of rights. Not just on marriage equality but on language and legacy matters.

"What we have been working on - and bear in mind we were the ones that made a deal last February - we were the ones prepared to deliver a deal and the DUP walked away."

Murphy added: "In its absence - and if the DUP continues to deny rights - Westminster has responsibility to legislate for these matters. We have always been clear on that. It is not our preference but it is clearly in the Good Friday Agreement."

He also said that the DUP are "on the wrong side of this argument in Ireland and Britain".

The Facts

MPs resoundingly backed amendments which require the government to extend same-sex marriage and abortion rights to Northern Ireland, if devolution is not restored.

The power-sharing government in Northern Ireland collapsed in January 2017.

The amendments were voted on as part of a Commons debate aimed at keeping the country running in the absence of a devolved government.

MPs backed the same sex marriage amendment, put forward by Labour's Conor McGinn, by 383 votes to 73. The abortion amendment, proposed by Labour's Stella Creasy, was backed 332 votes to 99.

If the Northern Irish government is not restored by October 21, these amendments will become law. However, for the time being, same-sex marriage is not legal and abortion is only allowed in very limited circumstances in Northern Ireland.

A future assembly could also overturn or change the law.

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Irish Times

DUP: Vote on same-sex marriage, abortion 'undermines Northern Ireland'

The DUP's Jeffrey Donaldson has described Thursday's vote in Westminster to extend same-sex marriage and abortion rights to Northern Ireland if the Stormont institutions are not restored as "undermining the political institutions of Northern Ireland. "

Marriage equality and abortion are "sensitive issues" and should have been a matter for the people of Northern Ireland to decide "through their elected representatives" he told RTÉ radio's Morning Ireland.

"To do it this way is breaking the devolution settlement - that's not the way to make the law.

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