Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Sinn Féin 'Petition of Concern' blocks Northern Ireland attempt to halt the operation of private abortion clinics

We reported last month on a proposed amendment to the Criminal Justice Bill in Northern Ireland aimed at stopping private abortion clinics from operating in Northern Ireland

Sinn Fein’s Assembly Members have used a ‘Petition of Concern’ to block the amendment to the Criminal Justice Bill aimed at stopping private abortion centres like Marie Stopes International from operating in Northern Ireland.

The 'Petition of Concern’, which required a minimum of 30 signatures, was also signed by Anna Lo of the Alliance Party and Stephen Agnew of the Green Party.

Despite the fact that Sinn Fein were bombarded with petitions from constituents, asking them either to support, or at least allow the amendment to proceed, their views were ignored and the 'Petition of Concern' was signed, effectively blocking the amendment.

Under Assembly rules, the vote on the amendment can still take place but the ‘Petition of Concern’ means it cannot be passed without both a majority unionist and nationalist vote.

“By using the process of a “Petition of Concern” in this manner Sinn Fein has expanded the use of the process beyond the purpose for which it was intended. ‘Petitions of Concern’ were designed to protect the rights of minorities within Northern Ireland to ensure one community did not trample upon the rights of another.