In talks at Belfast’s Queen’s University, Sinn Féin president, Mary Lou McDonald, called on the Irish and British governments to come together on a bill to implement same-sex marriage in Northern Ireland.
The issue, along with the proposed introduction of an Irish language Act, has caused a long running political stalemate between Sinn Féin and the DUP with the DUP’s resistance leading to an impasse, preventing the restoration of the Northern Executive and Assembly.
Ms McDonald stated, “The right to marriage equality – available in the South and across Britain – remain” and “cannot be further delayed”.
In an attempt to push the issue forward, politicians from opposing parties in the UK will promote parrellel same-sex marriage bills in the coming week. Lord Hayward from the Conservative Party, will introduce the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) (Northern Ireland) Bill, with Labour’s Conor McGinn following with a similar bill.
However, Sir Jeffrey Donaldson, the DUP’s Chief Whip, has made it clear the bills would have little chance of success. “I think there is very little prospect of the bill getting through all of the stages in the parliamentary process, and it remains our view that this is a devolved matter and clearly should be dealt with by the Northern Ireland Assembly.”
If the Bill did reach the Assembly, it is uncertain if it would be successful, as the DUP could block a positive result by petition of concern.
In an interview with Pinknews, Michelle O’Neill, head of Sinn Féin in Northern Ireland, said, “I am 100 percent certain that the DUP will never do marriage equality, so if that’s the case, we have to find another way to do it”.
Patrick Corrigan, a campaigner for Love Equality, stated, “”We call on the UK government to introduce its own legislation to ensure equality can now become law for Northern Ireland couples.” He continued, “Discrimination against LGBT couples in Northern Ireland can no longer be tolerated”.
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