A HEAVY weight broadsheet newspaper has bluntly told Attorney General John Larkin: Stop meddling in Marie Stopes abortion row.
In a leader comment piece in this morning’s Guardian newspaper, it says that if the QC doesn’t ” stop stirring the Marie Stope’s pot” then his position as Attorney General will become “untenable”.
The broadside from a UK national paper comes as the BBC has revealed that an assembly pro-life group has described the attorney general’s views on abortion as “sound”.
Award-winning political correspondent Stephen Walker obtained a document for the BBC which showed that John Larkin was involved in advising the executive on abortion guidelines.
It quotes him as having “taken control”.
Mr Larkin’s involvement is detailed in a set of minutes from an all-party assembly group that opposes relaxing the law on abortion.
The All Party Pro Life Group includes MLAs from the DUP including the next health minister Jim Wells and his colleague Mervyn Storey.
The group is chaired by Foyle SDLP MLA Pat Ramsey and includes the North Belfast MLA Alban Maginess, Chris Lyttle of the Alliance Party, Danny Kennedy of the UUP and the TUV leader Jim Allister.
Anti-abortion campaigner Bernie Smyth from the Precious Life group and members of the Christian Institute and Society of the Protection of the Unborn Child (SPUC) also attend group meetings at Parliament Buildings.
At a meeting in January 2012, members discussed the progress of Department of Health guidelines on abortion.
The minutes of that meeting state: “Jim Wells suggested that there had been a written question put forward about the progress of the DHSSPS guideline and had met trust officials.
“In particular the new Attorney General Mr Larkin had taken control and his views on abortion were sound.”
An Attorney General’s office spokesman told the BBC: ” We cannot offer a comment on the minutes of a meeting at which the attorney was not present nor provided any input.
“The issues of the abortion guidelines, following the Court of Appeal judgment, are a matter for the department.
“As you know there is a long standing convention that whether or not the attorney’s advice has been sought and the content of his advice, if given, cannot be disclosed.”
The development comes after the attorney general offered to assist in the scrutiny of the newly opened Marie Stopes clinic in Belfast is operating within the law on abortion in Northern Ireland.
He offered his services not as the Attorney General but in his capacity as “guardian of the law” in Northern Ireland.
Last week it was also revealed that the QC once described destroying a highly disabled child in the womb as akin to “putting a bullet in the back of the head of the child two days after it’s born”.
He made the comments in May 2008 before he became attorney general in a panel discussion on the BBC Radio Ulster Sunday Sequence programme.
In this morning’s leader comment piece, The Guardian newsaper, whose editor-in-chief is Alan Rusbridger, stated: “Given that the main parties in the cross-community coalition running Northern Ireland are all hostile to legal abortion, any move against the Marie Stopes clinic by the devolved government is clearly likely to be hostile.
“But the Attorney General is a public servant of all the people, including women facing crisis pregnancies or who are victims of rape.
“Mr Larkin should stop stirring the Marie Stopes pot and stop controversialising his office in this way.
“If he intervenes again on the matter his position as chief legal adviser in Northern Ireland is surely untenable.”