Sinn Fein accuse SDLP of hypocrisy after same-sex marriage motion fails

Sinn Fein Councillor Tony McCaul.
Sinn Fein Councillor Tony McCaul.

Sinn Fein have accused the SDLP of hypocrisy after one of their councillors abstained from voting on a proposal for Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council to back same-sex marriage.

The motion proposed by Sinn Fein Colr. Tony McCaul failed to win support from unionists and the SDLP.

It is understood the DUP, UUP and TUV voted against the proposal while the only SDLP councillor present, Maura Hickey, abstained from the vote. Only the three Sinn Féin members of the committee voted in favour of Colr. McCaul’s proposal.

Colr. McCaul said there was no debate on the motion, which he said he found “very strange”. He also said Sinn Fein would bring a fresh motion on the matter to the next session of the Assembly.

Sinn Féin Colr. McCaul, who has spoken openly about his daughter and the moment she told him she was gay, said: “The SDLP failed to support a motion on marriage equality at a meeting of the Causeway Coast and Glens policy committee while holding a tribute to gay activist PA Mag Lochlainn in Newry,” said Colr. McCaul.

“Their hypocrisy on this issue knows no bounds. It is ironic that as PA Mag Lochlainn, a native of the Causeway Coast and Glens area, was being honoured in Newry his own SDLP constituency representatives refused to support a motion for marriage equality. This is not the first time that the SDLP has attempted to ride two horses on the issue and their failure is another let down to the LGBT community.

“The best tribute that the SDLP can provide to PA Mag Lochlainn and the LGBT community is to support Sinn Féin in making marriage equality a reality for all citizens of the North when our party brings a motion before the Assembly in the new session.”

A spokesperson for the SDLP said: “The SDLP remains committed to Marriage Equality with robust protection for faith groups. This is a matter for the Northern Ireland Assembly where a majority of SDLP MLAs continue to vote in favour of the change. Contrary to what Colr McCaul has said, no motion in the Assembly can make Marriage Equality ‘a reality’, as he and his party know. Such a move would require legislation which, to date, no party has brought forward.

“Since its inception, the SDLP has believed in the power of persuasion, and we will continue to make the case for Equal Marriage and pursue equal rights for the LGBT community.”