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Northern Ireland: campaigners seek marriage equality commitments from parties

Campaigners meeting party leaders today as moves to return to devolved government continue

‘We want to see a return to devolved government and, with that, a watertight commitment to ensure the passage of marriage equality legislation’ - Patrick Corrigan

Campaigners for civil marriage equality in Northern Ireland are urging agreement from Northern Ireland political party leaders as part of any arrangement to restore devolved government to Northern Ireland.

Representatives of the six organisations making up the Love Equality campaign for civil marriage equality have written to the main party leaders at the Northern Ireland Assembly and are due to meet with most of them today (Wednesday) at Stormont.

The equality campaigners are due to tell party leaders that unless there is an agreement to pass equal marriage legislation, “the will of the people – and the will of the Assembly – will continue to be frustrated”, which they say will undermine public confidence in the institutions of government.

In their letter to party leaders, the campaigners say that a “commitment to passing equal marriage legislation is a litmus test for any new devolved government here. Any new government must be a government for all the people.”

The campaigners are due to meet leaders of Sinn Féin, the Ulster Unionist Party, the SDLP, Alliance and the Green Party. There has been no response yet from Arlene Foster of the DUP, although Love Equality will continue to request a meeting.

Northern Ireland is currently the only part of the UK or Ireland without equal marriage laws, despite widespread public support and a majority in favour within the Assembly. Campaigners are calling for a law change to bring the region into line with the rest of the UK and Ireland.

Patrick Corrigan of Amnesty International said:

“We are asking party leaders to show leadership on an issue which already has very strong cross-community and cross-party support. We want to see a return to devolved government and, with that, a watertight commitment to ensure the passage of marriage equality legislation.

“If Northern Ireland gets direct rule instead of devolution, then we will take our equality campaign to Westminster, which has already passed equal marriage laws for England and Wales.”

The Love Equality campaign for equal civil marriage in Northern Ireland is led by the Rainbow Project, Irish Congress of Trade Unions, Amnesty International, Cara-Friend, NUS-USI and HereNI.

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