Northern Ireland news

Pro life group to target pro-abortion nationalist candidates

 Mother and daughter Patricia Conroy and Catherine Sewell of St Joseph's Pro Life Group 
Connla Young

A PRO-Life group which claims it cost Sinn Féin a Westminster seat has vowed to target assembly candidates who support abortion and gay marriage.

Dungannon-based St Joseph’s Pro Life Group said it will focus its attention on Sinn Féin and SDLP candidates in next year’s assembly election.

The group came to prominence earlier this year when it claimed it stopped former Sinn Féin MP Michelle Gildernew from retaining her seat in Fermanagh/South Tyrone.

The seat was captured by UUP man Tom Elliot with a narrow majority of almost 600.

The St Joseph’s group said it distributed 20,000 leaflets in the area in the run-up to the May election urging people to vote for pro-life candidates.

Sinn Féin members voted in March to change the party's policy on abortion to support terminations in cases of fatal foetal abnormality.

The pressure group also claims it cost the party a council seat in Dungannon last year.

Spokeswoman Catherine Sewell last night accused both nationalist parties of “arrogance and cowardice” for ignoring Catholic teaching on abortion and warned them “not to take the Catholic vote for granted”.

She said SDLP candidates will also be singled out for attention during next year’s election over the party's stance on gay marriage, with voters targeted with leaflets and visits to homes.

“This is a direct assault against Catholic teaching on the matter, which has left devout Catholic voters furious and embarrassed at the antics of political parties who rely on the Catholic vote to get themselves elected."

She added: “When these people are standing before the gates of hell the party whip won’t be of much use to them then."

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