Theresa May discusses Northern Ireland abortion laws with Tory MPs

Up to 5,000 activists marched through Belfast to demand an end to the ban on same-sex marriage

The Labour MP spearheading a cross-party coalition effort to repeal Victorian-era laws criminalising abortion across the United Kingdom has told DUP leader Arlene Foster her views shouldn't prevent their bid.

Labour backbencher Stella Creasy, who backs the move, has said that repealing the Offences against the Persons Act 1861 would remove a block to abortion law reform in Northern Ireland.

Ms Creasy also criticised DUP leader Arlene Foster who said she found it "quite distasteful to see people dancing about on the streets" after the Irish abortion referendum.

MPs will debate legalising abortion in Northern Ireland tomorrow.

MPs have won permission for an emergency debate on the abortion law in Northern Ireland.

Mrs Foster, who on Monday told the Press Association she had received more than 100 emails and letters from disaffected nationalists and republicans, said many people were unhappy that Sinn Fein had backed the repeal of the Irish Republic's strict constitutional ban on terminations.

"There are many people who are shocked in the Republic of Ireland and whilst I completely acknowledge the result that happened last Saturday, that doesn't take away from the fact that there's a substantial minority of people who feel disenfranchised".

Tuesday's debate comes ahead of the Supreme Court considering whether Northern Ireland's laws breach human rights legislation.

The House of Commons will discuss the repeal of an 1861 law that makes abortion illegal, but from which England, Wales and Scotland have always been exempt.

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Her debate will not change the law but will give MPs a chance to air their views.

Ms Fearon said: "I don't think nationalists will just overnight forget the decades of disrespect and discrimination from the DUP and others to just switch allegiances over a single issue".

"In calling for this debate, we must be clear about the consequences of keeping sections 58 and 59, because extending the 1967 Abortion Act does not address the impact of these pills or the paternalism that means that women are not trusted to make their own choices, nor does it impose a particular rule on Northern Ireland - it will remove the impediment to Northern Ireland making its own legislation", Ms Creasy added. She was seeking to placate those who say it should be a decision for the Northern Ireland Assembly, which is now suspended, when power sharing is restored.

Sinn Féin supports abortion in extreme cases, like foetal abnormality. However, the republican party is due to consider whether to change to support unrestricted abortion up to 12 weeks at its party conference later this month.

"We were elected to that devolved administration last March".

"It also reflects the importance of listening to communities".

No 10 says it should be dealt with by Stormont once devolution is restored.

"I have had emails from Nationalists and Republicans in Northern Ireland not quite believing what is going on and saying they will be voting for the DUP because they believe we are the only party that supports the unborn".

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