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Thursday 30 November 2023 Dublin: 3°C

Arlene Foster's letter to Scottish government about same-sex marriage released

Last week Foster said she had no recollection of the letter.

arlene Brian Lawless / PA Wire/PA Images Taoiseach Leo Varadkar welcomes DUP leader Arlene Foster to Government Buildings in Dublin last week Brian Lawless / PA Wire/PA Images / PA Wire/PA Images

A LETTER DUP leader Arlene Foster wrote to the Scottish government asking that gay couples from Northern Ireland not be allowed to convert their civil partnerships into same-sex marriages in Scotland has been released.

Foster wrote the letter in 2015 to then local government minister Marco Biagi. She was Northern Ireland’s Finance Minister at the time.

Last week, she told BBC Radio Ulster’s Inside Politics she had no recollection of the letter.

The letter and Biagi’s replies have been released to BBC News NI following a Freedom of Information request.

At the time the letter was written, the Scottish government was bringing in legislation to allow a civil partnership made in another jurisdiction to be recognised in Scottish law as a marriage.

Biagi tweeted about the existence of the letter earlier this month, just after the Conservative Party lost its majority in the British government. The Tories are now in talks with the DUP to form a government.

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When questioned about the letter by the BBC, Foster last week said: “I’m not quite sure what he was referring to but it certainly wasn’t a letter from me and I’ve no recollection of a letter from me.

“If I’d written to him officially as Minister of Finance or something like that around recognition laws here in Northern Ireland, I have no recollection of it. I certainly didn’t write in a personal capacity.”

The DUP is not in favour of marriage equality.

In the letter, sent on 4 September 2015, Foster wrote: “I am sure neither of us would wish to place same-sex couple in an uncertain legal position, which maybe difficult and expensive to resolve.

In this instance, we can achieve legal certainty by restricting the definition of a ‘qualifying civil partnership’ so as to exclude civil partnerships which were entered into in Northern Ireland.

In his reply to Foster, sent on 24 November 2015, Biagi said it wouldn’t be appropriate to exclude Northern Irish couples from availing of the legislation.

Read: Britain gets ready for the Queen’s speech – but there’s still no deal with the DUP

Read: Leo travels to London to discuss Brexit and Northern Ireland

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