Ged Killen MP has criticised the SNP for refusing to support a crucial step towards securing marriage equality and reproductive rights in Northern Ireland.
The amendment to the Northern Ireland (Executive Formation and Exercise of Functions) Bill requires the Secretary of State to issue guidance to civil servants in Northern Ireland detailing how to comply with human rights obligations in the absence of an Assembly and is thought to be a major step towards bringing the law on the access to safe abortion and same-sex marriage in Northern Ireland into line with the rest of the UK.
SNP MPs were whipped to abstain on the amendment with the party saying they do not vote on matters devolved to England, Wales or Northern Ireland.
Commenting on the result of the vote, Ged Killen MP said:
“This was not about devolution. Northern Ireland is in the unique situation of having no functioning devolved government and this amendment instructs the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland to issue guidance to civil servants in the absence of a functioning Assembly.
“This was about human rights, respecting the rights of women to make decisions about their own bodies and respecting the right of individuals to marry who they love. It’s disappointing that SNP MPs opted to put themselves in the same category as the DUP and right-wing Conservatives who oppose these basic rights in principle but who hid behind devolution as an excuse.
“The question the SNP must now answer is why were they prepared to vote against fox hunting in England in 2015 but not for same-sex marriage and women’s rights in Northern Ireland in 2018.
“This is yet more proof that the SNP can talk a good game but rarely live up to it. They simply cannot be trusted to help deliver progressive policies across the UK.