Tyrone GAA manager Mickey Harte in abortion appeal to MLAs

Mickey Harte Mickey Harte is manager of the Tyrone county team

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A senior GAA figure has urged all MLAs to back a plan to prevent private clinics from carrying out abortions.

In a statement, Mickey Harte, the Tyrone manager, welcomed the amendment tabled by the DUP's Paul Givan and the SDLP's Alban Maginness.

If passed, the amendment would restrict abortion to be carried out only in NHS premises in exceptional circumstances.

Mr Harte urged all MLAs opposed to the move to reconsider their position ahead of next week's vote.

Sinn Fein, the largest nationalist party, has said it is against the amendment as has Alliance MLA Anna Lo.

Mr Harte said: "Human life is the most precious gift you can receive and the most basic fundamental human right is the right to life.

"Society is defined by how it treats the most vulnerable in our community and we must do all in our power to provide the best care possible in the most difficult of circumstances.

"Every abortion that takes place is tragic for both mother and child which requires the highest level of care from our medical profession.

"This care is best found in the NHS that can be trusted, with no financial gain, to act in the best interests of both mother and child within the law that gives protection to the unborn child."

He said the amendment had his "full support".

"I would urge every assembly member to put aside normal party political differences and join as one on this issue that unites all of our people."

In response, the MLAs tabling the motion said there had been a "tidal wave" of cross-community support from various sources including the Roman Catholic Church, Church of Ireland and Presbyterian Church, for their amendment to the Criminal Justice Bill.

They said they wanted to ensure accountability and transparency on the abortion issue and to support the NHS.

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