The idea of Sinn Féin voters backing the DUP over abortion isn't as absurd as it sounds. But the prevailing trend goes the other wayby Kylie Noble / June 5, 2018 / Leave a comment
With the resounding support to repeal the 8th amendment from the Irish Constitution on May 25th, attention has almost inevitably turned to Northern Ireland, the only region in these islands that effectively bans abortion.
The Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), the largest party in the region, who grew out of the minority fundamentalist Free Presbyterian Church, founded by the Reverend Ian Paisley in the 1970s. The party ardently opposes abortion in all cases from a conservative Christian perspective.
Now, leader Arlene Foster has claimed in an interview on Sky’s SophyRidge on Sunday programme this week that she has been sent emails from Sinn Féin voters commending the DUP’s stance.
In the interview, Ms Foster said: “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.”
Furthermore, Ian Paisley junior, currently an MP, tweeted that he had been sent an email from a Roman Catholic Priest in his constituency thanking the DUP for its stance and that he will be urging his Parish to vote for the party due to their position on social issues. Naomi Long, leader of the moderate, anti-sectarian Alliance party tweeted in response that it was akin to getting a letter from a Nigerian Prince assuring the transfer of $10,000,000.
Given that one of the stalling blocks for getting Stormont in action again is the DUP’s opposition to same-sex marriage, it’s not surprising that majority reaction has been dismissal of the seeming absurdity of this.
However, as ridiculous as the DUP claims may appear, there are actually elements of truth to them. Whilst Sinn Féin are rejecting the claim entirely, it is worth noting that they long held a conservative stance on abortion.
Due to the rapid momentum the grassroots movement to repeal the 8th gathered in the last few years, Sinn Féin—a party that operates in the north and south of Ireland—was forced to confront contradictory positions within their ranks.
As recent as 2013, former Deputy First Minister of Northern Ireland, Martin McGuinness, said in an interview with RTÉ at the party’s Ard Fheis [party conference]: “We are an anti-abortion party but we are also a party that recognises where there is a great risk to the life of the mother.”
“It was not until 2015 that…