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Pro-abortion activists project image of giant heart onto Northern Ireland Office in London

Amnesty International's 'Now for Northern Ireland' logo projected on a wall near St Anne's Cathedral in Belfast. Picture by Simon Graham/Amnesty International/PA
Michael McHugh

PRO-ABORTION activists have projected an image of a giant heart onto Northern Ireland Office (NIO) premises in London.

They illuminated the words "Now for Northern Ireland" to mark a year since Ireland voted to repeal its near-total ban on terminations and urged the UK government to act north of the Irish border.

Northern Ireland has the strictest laws in the UK.

Secretary of state Karen Bradley faces calls to legislate for change amid the suspension of devolved Stormont powersharing, but there is vocal opposition there.

The stunt lit up buildings in London, Belfast, Dublin and Glasgow and was carried out by Amnesty International in partnership with artist Maser, borrowing from the symbolism of the Republic's historic shift.

Maser said: "By consciously making the Repeal artwork copyright free, the public were empowered to take ownership of it; I was a messenger watching from the side lines.

"With the people's fierce collective energy, the artwork built huge momentum and spread across the state.

"Our friends in the North are now on their journey to revoke their outdated abortion laws. I am here to show my alliance, I am your defender."

The giant heart was projected onto the NIO in Westminster, The Mac arts centre building in Belfast, the Mary Barbour socialist heroine statue in Glasgow, and the Project Art Centre in Dublin – where the original repeal mural was painted.

This weekend marks one year since Ireland voted to overturn its near-total abortion ban, allowing early stage terminations in what proponents said was a compassionate and modernising step for women.

Activists want the UK government to introduce similar change in Northern Ireland while powersharing at Stormont remains frozen in a dispute between Sinn Féin and the DUP.

Prime minister Theresa May's erstwhile Democratic Unionist allies oppose liberalisation, arguing that protection of life is sacrosanct, while Sinn Féin favours change.

The NHS in the rest of the UK does not charge for terminations for Northern Irish women who travel there.

Grainne Teggart, Amnesty's campaign manager in Northern Ireland, said: "These projections shine a spotlight on the unjustifiable neglect of people in Northern Ireland.

"Whilst dangerous roll-backs on reproductive rights are happening across US states, we must remember that our own government is forcing its own citizens to live with these cruel laws.

"It's time for the government to end the harm and hurt caused by our inhumane and discriminatory near-total abortion ban."

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