BY Peter Diamond | August 9 | comments icon 0 COMMENTS     print icon print

Constituents accuse MP of hypocrisy over Northern Ireland abortion vote

An MP has been accused of 'hypocrisy' by a constituent over her voting record on abortion.

In October 2018, constituents Charlie McCluskey and Anthony McCartney emailed Alison Thewliss, SNP MP for Glasgow Central, after she abstained from an abortion debate on Northern Ireland.

The MP replied that she had abstained as it would be ‘hypocritical… to support the UK Government overriding devolution and unilaterally imposing new laws on the people of Northern Ireland.’



“As an SNP MP, I am of the fundamental belief that decisions about Scotland should be taken by the people of Scotland,” she wrote.

However, last month Ms Thewliss voted in favour of an amendment to introduce abortion to the North.

Constituent Charlie McCluskey said: “Myself and a number of constituents wrote to Ms Thewliss in October 2018 after we were concerned after she abstained in the abortion debate in Northern Ireland.

“She responded and claimed she would not be voting on any issues which were devolved to Northern Ireland. However, last month she proceeded to vote on the latest abortion vote.”


Changed stance

He added that when asked why she had altered her stance on the issue in Northern Ireland, Ms Thewliss cited ‘human rights’ as the over-riding decision to change her mind.

In further correspondence with the constituents, Ms Thewliss said: “I very much stand by the principle that this should be for the devolved institutions to decide. Despite the hopes I had back in October that Northern Ireland would have a functioning Executive by now, that has sadly proven not to be the case.

“There seems little prospect either of this happening any time soon, and it is untenable—as noted by the United Nations and many others—for people in Northern Ireland to continue to have a lower standard of human rights than we enjoy in Scotland for an indefinite period of time.”


Lyra McKee

Ms Thewliss, who is SNP Spokesperson for Treasury, added: “It is a difficult call to weigh up human rights against devolution, and members of my group have made their own decision on this as you will no doubt have seen.

“My mind has been changed by the calls of people from Northern Ireland, such as Sara Canning, the partner of Lyra McKee, to act on this matter in the absence of progress on an assembly.”

Ms McKee was a gay journalist from Northern Ireland who was fatally shot during rioting in the Creggan area of Derry. Since her death Lyra’s partner Sara has lobbied for the introduction of same-sex marriage in the North.


Same-sex marriage

A similar amendment passed at the same time as the abortion vote will introduce same-sex marriage to Northern Ireland.

Mr McCluskey, a parishioner at St Alphonsus’ Church in Glasgow, added that Ms Thewliss told them she voted because ‘the Northern Ireland assembly had taken too long to reconvene and it was a matter of human rights.’

“I think it’s disgraceful that a public servant who made a very clear statement on such a sensitive issue should change her mind so quickly,” he said.

“I think it’s even more ironic especially for a Scottish nationalist MP to take a stance on issues which changes the law in Northern Ireland without the consent of the people who live there.

“In my opinion she has compromised her nationalist principles. It is also worrying and disappointing knowing that your MP can act in what seems to me such a hypocritical manner over so short period of time.”

Alison Thewliss was approached for comment.

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