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Northern Ireland news

Separate anti-abortion and pro-choice rallies held in Belfast

All Ireland Rally For Life 2018 at Stormont
John Monaghan

SEPARATE anti-abortion and pro-choice rallies have been held in Belfast just weeks after the Republic voted to liberalise its' abortion laws.

Following May's vote to remove the Eighth Amendment from the Republic's constitution, which granted an equal right to life to the mother and unborn, the north has the strictest abortion laws in any part of Ireland or the UK.

The 1967 Abortion Act in Britain does not extend to Northern Ireland, where abortions are illegal except where the life or mental health of the mother is in danger.

At Stormont on Saturday, the annual Rally for Life took place, with campaigners urging there to be no change to the north's current legislation.

It was addressed by a range of speakers including the DUP MLA Jim Wells and women who talked about their own experiences of abortion.

Pro-life campaigner Bernie Smyth told the crowd: "We need to continue to be bold and courageous."

Meanwhile, at Belfast City Hall, the annual Rally for Choice was held, with protesters calling for the decriminalisation of abortion in Northern Ireland.

The protest was attended by campaign groups such as Alliance for Choice and a large Sinn Féin delegation including the party's deputy leader Michelle O'Neill.

Ms O'Neill said that women are "being failed here...just as they were in the south".

"Sinn Féin believe that legislative change should be brought about by locally elected MLAs and should be brought about in the assembly."

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