Campaigners will urge Westminster legislation if Stormont talks fail

Campaigners for civil marriage equality in Northern Ireland will meet the Northern Ireland Secretary of State tomorrow (Thursday, 3pm) afternoon, as inter-party talks continue at Stormont.

The equality campaigners are due to meet Karen Bradley at Stormont House, the first time that a Northern Ireland Secretary of State has met the Love Equality campaign. It is one of a series of political meetings which the campaigners are holding in parallel to the current political talks.

Declan Meehan of the Love Equality campaign said:

“The Secretary of State has said that she does not want to ‘impose’ marriage equality in Northern Ireland. We want to ensure that she understands that an overwhelming majority of the public and within the Assembly support marriage equality legislation and are frustrated at the lack of progress to date.

“Following our round of meetings with political parties so far, it is clear that up-front reform of the petition of concern is necessary if there is to be any guarantee of marriage equality through the devolved institutions. The alternative is four more years of Stormont failure.

“If there is no restoration of devolution, then we will make clear to the Secretary of State that we expect her government to introduce legislation at Westminster to bring Northern Ireland into line with the rest of the UK and Ireland. This is not imposing anything, but would be a long overdue equality measure which has huge support across Northern Ireland.”

The Love Equality campaign will be asking the Secretary of State to bring forward Westminster legislation for equal marriage in Northern Ireland if the political talks fail to restore devolved government. Meanwhile, they will be encouraging up-front reform of the petition of concern during the Stormont Talks.

The Love Equality campaign is urging politicians to ensure that civil marriage equality is part of any settlement to restore devolution to Stormont, and wants to see a reform of the petition of concern, an Assembly mechanism the DUP has previously used to block progress on marriage equality. Yesterday the DUP refused to give the campaigners any commitment that they would not continue to use the veto to block a marriage equality law if devolution is restored.