Northern Ireland news

Karen Bradley: Secretary of State criticised for comparing same-sex marriage to the rollout of broadband

Secretary of State Karen Bradley has been criticised for comments likening same-sex marriage rights to the rollout of broadband

NEW Secretary of State Karen Bradley has been criticised for comparing efforts to introduce same-sex marriage in the north with the rollout of super-fast broadband.

The Tory MP, who voted for equal marriage in England and Wales, said she would not "impose" a change in the law in Northern Ireland and said it was a matter for the Executive.

The DUP's block on same-sex marriage, along with its opposition to Sinn Féin's demand for a standalone Irish language act, is contributing to the continued political impasse at Stormont.

In an interview on radio station U105 yesterday, Mrs Bradley said it "will be a matter for the elected politicians in Northern Ireland to make a decision about equal marriage, that's for them to decide, it is not for me to impose, in the same way that it's not for me to impose the way that super-fast broadband is rolled out across the country".

"In my own county of Staffordshire it's rolled out by my county council. In Northern Ireland we need it to be rolled out by the Executive."

However, her comments were strongly criticised by same-sex marriage campaigners.

Patrick Corrigan from Amnesty International tweeted that her remarks were "an utter insult to same-sex couples denied the right to equal treatment under the law".

John O'Doherty, from The Rainbow Project, said: "I find [her] comments absolutely insulting to same sex couples across Northern Ireland currently denied equal treatment under the law".

"The denial of rights to UK and Irish citizens living in Northern Ireland should not be minimised and it is particularly galling to hear these comments from an MP who purports to support same sex marriage and equality for LGBT people," he said.

Meanwhile, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has said people in the north should have the same language and marriage rights as citizens in the Republic and Britain.

Speaking before the commencement of new talks aimed at restoring power-sharing, the Fine Gael leader said: "People in Ireland and in Britain can marry their same sex partner, I don't see why Northern Ireland should be exceptional in that regard".

"The same thing apples to issues such as language legislation and language rights," he said.

"If these apply in Ireland, Scotland and Wales I think they should also apply in Northern Ireland."

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