The Northern Ireland Assembly will come under intense pressure in the wake of the Same Sex Marriage Referendum in Ireland. With Northern Ireland being the last of the provinces in the British Isles where Same Sex Marriage is illegal, everyone will now look to them to give the public a vote.
The Northern Ireland Assembly is slightly different from the other devolved institutions in the UK, with the Sectarian divide being appeased in the make-up of the Assembly. This makes it very difficult to pass anything without agreement across the ‘divide’.
Sinn Fein, for reasons unknown to most of us, are pushing hard for a Bill to be passed through the Assembly. They brought the subject up for the 4th time in late April 2015, but whilst there was lengthy debate, the motion failed due to the stance of the DUP. It’s an unlikely stance by Sinn Fein, proposing this and advocating ‘equality’, whilst still having blood on their hands over their links to the IRA. It is also in direct opposition to the stance of the Catholic Church, but Sinn Fein have an agenda which doesn’t always take account of their Church.
Enniskillen, November 2014.
The DUP vehemently oppose Same Sex Marriage, with a very narrow-minded view that it somehow breaks their ‘staunch’ religious belief. They will not be moved on the issue at all, so the current stalemate will continue unless a different approach is taken.
A Referendum in Northern Ireland may be the only way forward, but even getting the DUP to agree to this (knowing full well the vast majority of the NI population would vote in favour) will be very difficult. There has already been a petition started which is gaining notoriety, requesting the Assembly to allow the public to have their say. This, plus associated media attention might actually force the issue, if the DUP can be convinced to allow a democratic Referendum.
The people of Northern Ireland are certainly not any more backward politically than anywhere else in the UK, certainly not any more controlled by their religious belief than anywhere else, but whilst we still have those in power at Stormont who allow religion to wield such influence we will find progressive legislation difficult to action. The voters in Northern Ireland want a say, and they will definitely vote positively for Same Sex Marriage – it’s just convincing these bigoted politicians to permit them to have their say.