Northern Ireland news

Lidington believes Westminster will 'at some stage' legislate for same sex marriage in Northern Ireland if the devolved government is not restored

David Lidington visited a business in Co Fermanagh

MINISTER for the Cabinet Office David Lidington has said that he believes Westminster will "at some stage" legislate for same sex marriage in Northern Ireland if the devolved government in the region is not restored.

He was speaking during a visit to a business in Co Fermanagh after a group of MPs indicated they intend to table an amendment to Secretary of State Karen Bradley's Northern Ireland (Executive Formation and Exercise of Functions) Act 2018 that would compel the British government to legislate for same-sex marriage in the region.

"By far the best thing would be for Stormont to decide these things but I think it's also true that if we don't see Stormont restored soon, then there will be further attempts at Westminster to bring these issues for decision there, and at some stage a way will be found to bring forward an amendment that is in order and where Westminster will end up taking the decision," Mr Lidington said.

"It really ought to be a decision for elected politicians here accountable to the people here."

Mr Lidington, the de facto deputy prime minister, also indicated the scale of the response to the legacy consultation came as a surprise to the government.

"More than 17,000 individuals and organisations responded, I think more than any of us expected," he said.

"And I think it is right that the government should take its time to think carefully about that very large number of responses and the different views expressed there and then I expect it will be for the new prime minister and new government to decide on the way forward."

He also declined to definitively rule out a future amnesty for veterans in Northern Ireland.

Mr Lidington said ministers would have to think "very carefully" about the issue following the widespread rejection of the idea in the legacy consultation.

Asked if the outcome would now rule out a statute of limitations in the region, Mr Lidington said: "I think it would be wrong for me to speculate when we have just seen today the publication of the actual responses.

"Clearly ministers are going to have to think very carefully about this sensitive issue but I think everybody is agreed that we need a system for the future that is better than the one we have had up to now at giving both a sense of closure to victims and survivors and also is seen by everybody as fair and just."

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