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Most senior Catholic in Northern Ireland meets with NI Secretary of State to talk abortion
Archbishop Eamon Martin, Primate of All Ireland, has spoken with Julian Smith MP to explain his and others' concerns about the possibility of abortion being legalised in Northern Ireland.
Archbishop Eamon, the Archbishop of Amargh, told Premier: "It was a good meeting. It was a frank discussion, we were very clear with the Secretary of State how frustrating it is for the members of our parish communities in our congregations that we still haven't had the restoration of the Northern Ireland executive and of course we were particularly exercised about the issue of abortion and the impending legislation, which will be coming into effect in Northern Ireland on the 21st of October, should the assembly not be up and running again.
"The meeting was clear, straightforward. The Secretary of State listened carefully and we certainly got the impression that he too shares our frustration at the uncertainty which there is at the moment in the country, particularly with the whole question of Brexit and how it's going to impact on us here on this island."
The government in Northern Ireland broke down in 2017 when the representatives from the two main parties failed to agree, leaving the power-sharing set up in Northern Ireland defunct and unable to pass any new laws.
This summer, Westminster passed the Northern Ireland Executive Formation Bill, aimed at restoring the power. However, it was agreed that if the Executive cannot be restored by 21st October, abortion and same-sex marriage would be legalised because of the urgent desire for both by some in Northern Ireland.
A rally has taken place (pictured above) to oppose this happening and church leaders have been trying to encourage politicians to overcome obstacles and persuade Westminster that abortion in particular is too sensitive for it to be 'imposed' on the country.
Archbishop Eamon said the amendments to the bill relating to abortion infringe Northern Ireland's devolved rights: "We were very anxious to communicate to our political representatives that the people in our communities are frustrated and concerned about the whole issue of governance of the country at this time - about where we're going and a lack of a clear sense of direction.
"We were especially keen to communicate to the Secretary of State the concerns of many, many thousands of people who have taken to the streets to say that this legislation which was passed in Westminster in July without a proper consultation or scrutiny by the people of Northern Ireland, that we are not happy with it and that we want our political leaders to return so that they can take the responsibility for which they were elected on such a sensitive and such a complex and delicate issue as abortion."
An abortion is currently legal if there is a permanent or serious risk to the mother's physical or mental health.
This weekend, all the Christian denominations in Northern Ireland are calling on everyone to pray for the protection of unborn babies and for women who are facing difficult pregnancies or family circumstances.
They're also calling on people to sign a petition by Baroness O'Loan and speak to their political representatives.
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