Northern Ireland news

Republic's constitution 'downright insulting' to women said young Arlene Foster

DUP leader Arlene Foster
By Mairead Holland

THE Republic's constitution is "downright insulting" to women, a young Arlene Foster told a conference back in 1992.

The reported comments by the former Ulster Unionist were unearthed in minutes of a Young UUP conference by abortion reform campaigners.

Mr Foster - then Arlene Kelly and aged 21 - described the constitution as being "riddled with Roman Catholic social and political doctrine".

"A few examples include the Republic's stand on divorce and abortion; and the place given to women in the 1937 Constitution is downright insulting," she is recorded as saying.

"...We must expose the Republic's constitution for all that it is: that is, an archaic crutch to the Roman Catholic Church."

The DUP leader said at the weekend that a resounding referendum vote to remove the constitution's eighth amendment which strictly restricts abortion had no impact on the law in Northern Ireland.

"The legislation governing abortion is a devolved matter and it is for the Northern Ireland Assembly to debate and decide such issues," the DUP leader said.

And in an apparent reference to the crowds at Dublin Castle addressed by Taoiseach Leo Varadkar after Saturday's referendum result, she said: "The DUP is a pro-life party and we will continue to articulate our position. It is an extremely sensitive issue and not one that should have people taking to the streets in celebration."

Eleanor Crossey Malone of socialist feminist movement Rosa yesterday criticised Mrs Foster, saying her claims that the vote will have no impact in Northern Ireland "are delusional".

She claimed the DUP have "no mandate for their undemocratic manoeuvres" and also criticised Michelle O'Neill and Sinn Fein for opposing Westminster extending abortion rights to Northern Ireland.

"All the main parties seem to expect women and pregnant people to pin their hopes on the re-establishment of a Stormont Executive that can take action on abortion rights – yet ironically they are currently all pro-life. We won't wait," she said.

No-one from the DUP was available for comment yesterday.

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