Foster claims Sinn Féin voters ready to vote DUP over abortion

‘I have had emails from people in the Republic of Ireland feeling disenfranchised’

DUP leader Arlene Foster claims she has received emails from Nationalists and Republicans in Northern Ireland after the abortion referendum not quite believing what is going on. Photograph: PA

DUP leader Arlene Foster claims she has received emails from Nationalists and Republicans in Northern Ireland after the abortion referendum not quite believing what is going on. Photograph: PA

 

Sinn Féin voters are prepared to vote for the rival Democratic Unionist Party because of its uncompromising stance against abortion, DUP leader Arlene Foster has claimed.

Mrs Foster said her party had been contacted by nationalists and republicans in the wake of the Republic’s landslide referendum to remove the Eighth Amendment.

Speaking to Sky News she said they recognised the DUP was “the only party that supports the unborn”, after calls for Northern Ireland strict laws to be eased in the wake of the Irish vote.

Abortion is illegal in all but the most exceptional of circumstances in Northern Ireland and Mrs Foster has already insisted any change should be a matter for the assembly in Belfast - which has been suspended for months.

Sinn Féin campaigned for a Yes vote in the referendum although one of its TDs, Meath West’s Peadar Tóibín was prominent in opposing the referendum.

Sinn Féin is due to discuss the issue of abortion at its ard fheis (party conference) later this month.

In an interview on Sunday, Mrs Foster told Sky there were people across Northern Ireland who “who feel so very strongly about this issue that they will cast their vote on that basis”.

She said: “I have had emails from people in the Republic of Ireland feeling very disenfranchised about what has happened in the Republic of Ireland.

“I have had emails from Nationalists and Republicans in Northern Ireland not quite believing what is going on and saying they will be voting for the DUP because they believe we are the only party that supports the unborn,” she claimed.

Some 66.4 per cent of Irish voters backed repeal in the referendum.

Mrs Foster criticised some of the celebrations by those who supported the repeal, telling Sky: “It certainly does not deserve some of the antics that we’ve seen recently frankly and I did find it, I have to say, quite distasteful to see people dancing about on the streets in relation to the referendum results. This is a serious subject.”

British prime minister Theresa May faces a political headache over calls to act because her fragile administration depends on the support of the ten DUP MPs.

Westminster politicians in favour of a change have suggested the forthcoming Domestic Abuse Bill promised by ministers could be used as a vehicle for MPs hoping to change the law in Northern Ireland.

The devolved Stormont Assembly has not sat for months following a row between former coalition partners the Democratic Unionists and Sinn Féin over a botched green energy scheme.