WATCH: DUP & Church leaders urge politicians to return to Stormont, stop abortion bill

DUP leader Arlene Foster has announced her support for a return to power-sharing in Stormont, a move echoed by the leaders of the four main churches in the north who say politicians must stop an “almost unregulated abortion regime” being imposed on the province by Westminster on October 22nd.

In a video released by her party, Foster urged voters to lobby other parties to “come back to Stormont without precondition”, a reference to the Irish Language Act that has been a sticking point between the DUP and Sinn Féin.

Representatives of the Church of Ireland, the Methodist Church in Ireland, the Catholic Church and the Presbyterian Church urged the political parties to take urgent action on the issue.

“Our Northern Ireland political parties have it in their own hands to do something about this. They all need to take risks and make the compromises necessary to find an accommodation that will restore the devolved institutions,” they said in a statement.

The church leaders said they were seeking a meeting with the Secretary of State, Julian Smith, on the issue.

“We are calling on the Secretary of State to recall the Assembly before 21 October to provide an opportunity for the parties to take the necessary steps both to prevent these laws coming onto effect and to find a better Northern Ireland solution for these challenging issues.

“Finally, we hope to meet with the Secretary of State to discuss with him our concerns, concerns that we share with a significant number of our fellow citizens of all faiths and none,” they wrote.

Previously, the Catholic Primate of All Ireland, Archbishop Eamon Martin, issued a plea for political representatives to act to prevent what he termed “this barbaric abortion legislation” from becoming law. He also described the Westminster vote as a cynical manipulation of the democratic process.

The devolved government in Stormont must be restored before October 21st to prevent legislation passed by Westminster coming into effect. The proposed legislation allows for abortion almost without limits.

While Sinn Féin are supporting the legislation – and British direct rule on this issue – the DUP say they are opposed to abortion being legalised.

Welcoming the statement, Bernadette Smyth of Precious Life said that opposition to the legislation was evident from the huge pro-life rallies this month. “We’ve been getting tremendous feedback from our ground campaign assisting voters to urge their MLAs to return to Stormont and stop this bill,” she said. “The onus is on our politicians now, they must act.”

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