21 years of the Good Friday Agreement

Good Friday Agreement image

The Abortion Rights Campaign join Alliance for Choice in honouring the life of ally Lyra McKee and fight for rights despite violence and deaths the Good Friday Agreement is meant to curtail.

On Good Friday 21 years ago, the Belfast Agreement was signed. It placed responsibility on the UK and Irish governments as the co-guarantors of the agreement to “uphold and protect the human rights of all the residents of Northern Ireland. Over 2 decades ago these rights were guaranteed & yet people in the North still have no abortion access

Northern Ireland remains the only country in the UK where abortion is still illegal and has some of the greatest restrictions in the European Union. The maximum sentence for procuring or providing an abortion even in cases of rape, incest or FFA, is life in prison.

Northern Irish citizens are also citizens of Ireland and have the right to be recognised as such. At the moment, there is no sitting government in the North. The Irish government, along with Westminster, have a huge role to play in upholding the rights of people in NI.  

People facing a crisis pregnancy on our small island should not have their rights limited by what part of the Island they are on. Under the Good Friday Agreement, all rights,  including Articles 3, 8 and 14 which are under the ECHR, are guaranteed to the citizens of Northern Ireland

Last year More than 170 politicians from the UK and Ireland signed a letter urging the UK government to reform Northern Ireland’s abortion laws.

Minister Simon Harris said that abortion is not truly safe unless is it free. Access to abortion in the Republic of Ireland  is costly for those in NI nor does it take into account travel, accommodation & the undue disruption caused by having to comply with the mandatory waiting period.

Under the Good Friday Agreement both Westminster & The Irish Government has a duty to act. We stand alongside our comrades in Alliance for Choice as they fight to achieve the healthcare they deserve. Accessible care must be accessible for all. No one left behind.

We note that Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has recognised the current fragmentation of rights across these islands in relation to abortion: “Any right or freedom that an Irish citizen has in Ireland, any right or freedom that a British citizen has in Britain, should be enjoyed by Irish and British citizens in Northern Ireland and that applies to things like marriage equality and abortion rights.”

We also recognise that an essential first step in delivering this human right would be for the  Westminster parliament to repeal sections 58 and 59 of the 1861 Offences Against the Persons Act and decriminalise abortion. We urge Westminster to set out an explicit legislative timetable for abortion legislation and the Dáil Éireann to abolish the €450 minimum fee with haste.