SPUC opens new Northern Ireland office in Belfast
18 February 2019
Liam Gibson, Jim Wells MLA, Maria Madise, John Smeaton.
The Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC) has established a new headquarters in Northern Ireland.
The new office, in central Belfast, was formally opened by prominent pro-life politician Jim Wells on Friday 15 February, at an event attended by politicians and representatives from pro-life groups across Northern Ireland.
The decision to establish a Belfast base and expand staff numbers comes as the Society steps up the fight against proposed legislation to make abortion legal in Northern Ireland. The new office will be headed by development officer Liam Gibson, who has represented SPUC in Northern Ireland for some years.
Defending NI's most defenceless
Mr Wells, a DUP MLA, said it was a great honour to be asked to the event. "I am delighted that SPUC is increasing its presence here at such a crucial time as the fundamental principles of the pro-life movement come under increasing pressure both in Northern Ireland and in London where there is growing support for Westminster to impose abortion legislation on the people of Northern Ireland. That would be a disgrace to democracy," he said.
Mr Wells added: "I have received messages of support from right across Northern Ireland where many people are horrified about what is happening in the Irish Republic and are urging me to stand firm in the defence of our most defenceless citizens — the unborn. Many of these people are from the nationalist community who are frustrated by the policy changes within the SDLP and Sinn Fein. They feel that their sincerely held views on this crucial issue are no longer being represented."
Giants of the pro-life movement attend
The importance of SPUC's work was highlighted by Baroness Nuala O'Loan, Northern Ireland's first Police Ombudsman, who spoke at the event. Also in attendance were Jim Shannon, DUP MP for Strangford, Alban Magginness, the former SDLP MLA, Christopher Stallford, DUP MLA for South Belfast, Pat Convery and Declan Boyle, independent Irish nationalist councillors on Belfast City Council and Declan O'Loan, SDLP, a member of Ballymena Borough Council - figures SPUC CEO John Smeaton described as "giants of the pro-life movement."
"Learn from the rest of the UK's mistakes"
Mr Smeaton said: "This is a massively important time for the pro-life movement as the fundamental respect for life and the values of many people in Northern Ireland are facing an unprecedented challenge from those who care nothing for the rights of the voiceless, unborn children nor the health of their mothers.
“This increase in our activity in Northern Ireland will involve a significant financial commitment but you cannot put a price on the life of a child and our supporters have been enormously generous in assisting the funding of our campaign. Without their support this would not be possible.
He told the guests present: "The job of the pro-life movement in 2019 is the same as it’s always been, to stop the concept of abortion becoming normal. It is normal not to kill children.
"Northern Ireland has a chance to make a continued stand for the innocents against the legalisation of abortion. I ask people here to take a look at what has happened in the rest of the UK and learn from those mistakes."
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