abortion stance | 

Beauty queen Aontù candidate says rape victims who fall pregnant should keep child

Former Miss Earth NI Alixandra Halliday is standing in the upcoming NI Assembly elections election

John Toner

Ex-beauty queen-turned-election hopeful Alixandra Halliday says victims of rape who fall pregnant should give birth to their rapist’s child.

Ms Halliday (31), a former Miss Earth NI, is standing as a candidate for Aontù in Mid Ulster at the Northern Ireland Assembly elections in May.

The now former model and mother-of-three, from Eglinton, Co Derry, also said there are no circumstances under which she or the party would support access to abortion.

The issue has long been a sensitive one in Northern Ireland and divided opinion. In recent years the law has changed, moving from a ban to decriminalisation.

But this former beauty queen doesn’t believe it should be legal in any circumstance.

When asked if abortion should be available to rape victims, she said: “No. Rape is a horrendous crime and the perpetrators should face the full force of the law.

“The mother must also be given support and as much medical care as possible. We don’t want to force anyone to do anything, but the ending of a life can never be the solution.

“We would be fighting for increased investment in rape crisis centres, to support mothers, and in the police force, to protect women.

“We would also introduce a bill to make it illegal for children to access porn, as we believe there is a direct link between porn and violence against women.

“People play on the ‘what-ifs’ in this case, but there is a whole lot of support we could wrap around a woman at that point in time.

“I do believe that if we support those victims and make sure their abuser goes to jail, then it would be a very different story.”

Back in 2011, aged just 19, Ms Halliday represented Northern Ireland in the Miss Earth beauty pageant in Thailand.

She continued modelling for several years, before raising a family and now entering local politics.

Ms Halliday, who works part-time at her husband’s frozen foods business, says that the issue of abortion is just one of the concerns that drew her into politics.

She continued: “It’s so close to a lot of people’s hearts, and it’s a big one because of how it was brought in via Westminster, and because it’s quite recent, this is people’s first real opportunity to vote since it happened.

“We stand for life and for protecting women as well. We believe life begins at conception and would see it as being here for life — and that runs through everything from education to housing to the cost of living.

“But we’re not a single-issue party and there were a lot of things which drew me in...

“Their [Aontù] stance on a number of issues, particularly around Stormont and education funding, appealed to me also.”

Despite being a newcomer to the world of local politics, Ms Halliday said she was getting a warm reception on the doorstep.

She added: “It’s quite nice actually. It gives you a wee spur to keep going whenever your message resonates with people.

“The main issue people want to discuss is the fact abortion is now available in Northern Ireland. A lot of people are not happy about that.

“Obviously the other issues people have are the ongoing cost-of-living crisis and the fact that Stormont isn’t working.

“I’ve always had an interest in politics and I’ve always wanted to stand up for human rights, whether that be through the pageants that I have done or through my own humanitarian work. It’s always been a passion of mine.

“The way Northern Ireland has went in the last couple of years, I couldn’t sit back any longer. Also, there’s not that many young women out there in politics, so I think it’s important to provide that voice.”

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