A Northern Ireland councillor has resigned from her political party over its stance on abortion.
Stephanie Quigley announced that she was quitting the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) but would remain on Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council as an independent councillor.
Announcing her resignation, Cllr Quigley, whose father Gerry McLaughlin was also an SDLP councillor in Coleraine for over two decades, said she made the “really difficult but important decision” as the right to life is at the core of her politics, Derry Now reported.
“As we journey through life there are always ‘crossroads’ moments and today I have made a really difficult but important decision to be an independent councillor,” she said.
“I have had the privilege to work alongside great people and make some lifetime friends in the SDLP and I’ll always be grateful for that.”
“The philosophy which my father espoused was based on non-violence and the right to life,” she said.
“I followed in his footsteps and held the right to life and the life of the unborn child as the cornerstone of my political philosophy.
“I have made friends for life within the party and wish them all the best for the future. I must however place the rights of those without a voice ahead of populism.”
Cllr Quigley’s resignation comes after the SDLP leadership was criticised by pro-lifers for siding with Westminster and Sinn Féin in forcing abortion on demand into the north of Ireland.
Last month, Peadar Tóibín TD, leader of the all-Ireland political party Aontú Leader, called on SDLP members to remove Colum Eastwood as their leader, after Mr Eastwood voted for abortion up until birth in certain cases in Westminster.
“The extreme extent of the Westminster abortion legislation has shocked many people in the north of Ireland. Under the new law, disability-selective abortion will be available hours before the birth of a fully formed child on the basis of disabilities, including cleft lip, cleft palate, club foot and Down’s syndrome,” explained Mr Tóibín.
“That the leadership of the SDLP would oppose the human right to life and vote for such a level of cruel discrimination shows how far that party has travelled in such a short time,” he continued. “The leader of a party more than any other member of a party has a responsibility to represent its members and voters on such a life and death issue.
“It is true that Sinn Féin lobbied for Westminster to impose this extreme abortion bill on the north against the will of the people of the north, against the devolved determination of the Good Friday Agreement and against every definition of self determination and Irish Republicanism.
“However Sinn Féin have long given up the pretence of support for the human right to life. The SDLP went to every door in the north of Ireland in the election six months ago and reaffirmed that the party supported human rights,” he said, adding that Mr Eastwood’s vote on the issue “made that pretence impossible in the future”.
“Can SDLP members, councillors and MLAs continue to work for a party that uses its votes to strip away such vital human rights, that selections co-option’s to Stormont who support the legal ending of life?” Mr Tóibín asked following the vote.
“How can these members remain loyal to a party that is actively doing damage to their core values? For many remaining in such a party led by Colum Eastwood will no longer be an option.”
Picture: Stephanie Quigley. (Liam McBurney/PA).