Abortion debate: Bloody Sunday relative Liam Wray votes for TUV on abortion

Liam Wray's brother Jim was killed on Bloody Sunday in 1972 Image copyright Press Eye
Image caption Liam Wray's brother Jim was killed on Bloody Sunday in 1972

The brother of a Bloody Sunday victim has said he now votes for the Traditional Unionist Voice (TUV) because of its stance on abortion.

Liam Wray said he voted for TUV leader Jim Allister because he "does not trust" nationalist parties' abortion policy.

Former Sinn Féin mayor Anne Brolly revealed on Thursday that she had quit the party because of the same issue.

Mr Wray and Mrs Brolly said there were many voters who shared their concerns.

In Northern Ireland, unlike the rest of the UK, abortion is only allowed if a woman's life is at risk or there is a permanent or serious risk to her physical or mental health.

In their 2016 manifesto, the TUV said that this was "sufficient" and that they were not in favour of any change in the law.

'Pro-death culture'

Liam Wray, whose brother, Jim, was shot dead on Bloody Sunday in 1972, told the BBC that he voted for the TUV in the European Elections because he is "pro-life".

"I would normally vote nationalist or republican, depending on the candidates and on their policies, from I was able to vote at 18," he said.

"This time around, the only party that I could see was unambiguous (on abortion) was either the DUP or Jim Allister.

"For me the foremost thing, no matter what comes after that and whether I believe in a united Ireland or whether I believe in the health service, the first and foremost point has to be the protection of human life," he said.

Image copyright Pacemaker
Image caption Jim Allister believes abortion denies unborn children their human rights

Thirteen people were killed on Bloody Sunday when British paratroopers opened fire on a civil rights march through Londonderry in January 1972. A 14th died later.

TUV leader Jim Allister has previously described the Saville report, which investigated the events of Bloody Sunday, as a "jamboree".

'Not surprised'

Mr Wray said it was a not an easy decision to break from his tradition of voting for the Sinn Féin or the SDLP.

"It was difficult, at the time, because I had to break from what my traditional view was. To support somebody who, for many years I had no time for and whose policies I thought were not mine.

"But I could not vote for a party, that in all consciousness, does not support pro-life in regards to protecting the most vulnerable in our society.

"It's not that I'm anti-women, and I hope I say this right, but I don't think it's a woman's choice.

"I'm a grandfather and a father and in those situations I'd like to think I'd be supportive. I do understand that it is a terrible difficult situation for women but I think sometimes it's very blasé for politicians.

"I worry about that, I worry about a culture that to me is pro-death rather than pro-life," he added.

In a statement to the BBC, a spokesperson for the TUV said: "The TUV is not in the least surprised that people from a traditionally nationalist or Roman Catholic background choose to vote for the party because of our clear stand on issues such as abortion.

"It is clear from looking at votes in the European election that the party was receiving votes from what is traditionally described as the "community divide".

"Additionally, we regularly receive correspondence and phone calls from people in the Roman Catholic community commending us for our stance on abortion."

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