Paula Bradshaw MLA has welcomed the early indications of a vote for overturning the abortion ban in the south.
Exit polls indicate a landslide vote in favour of repealing the Eighth Amendment to the Irish constitution, with Taoiseach Leo Varadkar saying a reform of the law could be on the books by the end of the year.
“This is great news and I am delighted the Irish people look to have voted to repeal the Eighth Amendment. My thanks and the thanks of everyone go to all the campaigners, those who bravely told their personal experiences and of course everyone who voted yes,” said Ms Bradshaw.
“Despite previous attempts by my colleague David Ford MLA to amend abortion legislation here, women in similar circumstances in Northern Ireland have been left with no option but to either continue the pregnancy or make the traumatic journey across the Irish Sea to seek a termination.
“I am hopeful this referendum result will now make it easier for those women to make a shorter journey but it doesn’t change the fact the issue of abortion here is one which needs clarified urgently. Last month, we finally saw the publication of the long-delayed report of the working group on fatal foetal abnormality, which recommended the law be changed.
“Therefore it remains frustrating we have no current means to have this issue debated in Northern Ireland. Those delaying the return of the devolved institutions need to take onboard this referendum result and the step forward for equality and healthcare it represents, and realise not having an Assembly means more ducking of the matter.
“Abortion is a conscience issue for Alliance but the weight of public opinion shows the current law here around it is a nonsense. What we need is a fundamental change in the law to give women the help needed and we need it now.”