Northern Ireland news

Liam Neeson steps down from Ballymena boxing club amid abortion row

It's understood Liam Neeson left his role after narrating an Amnesty International video on abortion

LIAM Neeson has stood down as president of his childhood boxing club amid reports of a disagreement over his support for changes to abortion laws.

The Hollywood actor was head of All Saints Amateur Boxing Club in his home town of Ballymena, where he trained from the age of nine.

It is understood Neeson left his role after narrating a campaign video calling for a repeal of the Irish constitution's eighth amendment.

The boxing club is associated with a Catholic church and it's believed some locals were upset by the Taken star's public stance, the Sunday Life reported.

A club member told the newspaper that Neeson (64) had stood down but made no further comment.

The film campaign by Amnesty International, released last year, was written by Father Ted creator Graham Linehan.

Narrating over black-and-white images of graves and ruins, Neeson says in the video: "A ghost haunts Ireland. A cruel ghost of the last century still bound to the land.

"It blindly brings suffering, even death, to the women whose lives it touches."

Anti-abortion campaigners at the time branded it "shockingly offensive" and called for its boycott.

The eighth amendment in the Republic's constitution enshrines in law the equal right to life for the unborn and the mother.

Abortion is only legal in the south if the mother's life it at risk.

In Northern Ireland abortion is only permitted if her life is at risk or there is a permanent or serious risk to her mental or physical health.

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Northern Ireland news