Sinn Féin President, Gerry Adams gave his personal view on the issue of abortion this week, saying it should be a woman’s right to choose whether to have an abortion. A motion on a “conscience vote” is set to debated at the party’s Ard Fheis next weekend. Sinn Féin TD Peadar Tóibín, who lost the party whip in the Dáil over his stance on the issue, called on the party to allow elected members to vote with their conscience. He said Sinn Féin faces a “bumpy road” in dealing with the issue.
The Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) public inquiry opened this week. It heard the claim that DUP special advisers worked to stop decisions being taken about the botched scheme as it came under budget pressure. This assertion will be made as part of evidence from ex-DUP minister (for enterprise, trade and investment) Jonathan Bell. It is estimated that a lack of cost controls has meant it could overspend by £700m over 20 years.
Jersey’s chief minister expressed disappointment that no Stormont politicians will be attending this year’s British-Irish summit. Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, UK Deputy Prime Minister Damian Green and Northern Ireland Secretary James Brokenshire are due to attend, as well as the Scottish and Welsh first ministers. On Friday, Prime Minister Theresa May spoke to the leaders of the DUP and Sinn Féin respectively by telephone, urging them to “bridge the gaps” between them and issues which have prevented the formation of an Executive.
UK Foreign Secretary, Boris Johnson apologised if remarks he made to a Westminster committee about a British-Iranian mother currently imprisoned in Iran caused anxiety to her family. He said Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe had been training journalists there. Later, Mr Johnson told MPs that the UK government had “no doubt” she was on holiday when she was arrested. A charity said the remarks could worsen her sentence. On Sunday, Environment Secretary Michael Gove faced criticism when he told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show that he didn’t know what Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe was doing in Iran when she was arrested in 2016.
US President, Donald Trump suggested that he believed Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin when he said his country did not meddle in last year’s presidential election. Mr Trump said: “Every time he [Mr Putin] sees me he says I didn’t do that, and I really believe that when he tells me that, he means it.” Former national intelligence chief, James Clapper claimed Mr Trump’s stance is putting the US at risk. “Putin is committed to undermining our system, our democracy and our whole process,” he said; “to try to paint it in any other way is, I think, astounding and in fact poses a peril to this country.”
Also published on Medium.