Alasdair McDonnell

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Alasdair McDonnell is the Social Democratic and Labour Party MP for Belfast South, and MLA for Belfast South in the Northern Ireland Assembly.

He studied medicine at University College Dublin, and worked as a family doctor in Belfast for over thirty years.


In May 2008 in the abortion amendments to the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill (now Act), Alasdair McDonnell voted for the abortion time limit to be lowered to 12 weeks against scientific and medical consensus which is currently 24 weeks[1]. After four separate parliamentary votes on varying time limits, the majority of MPs voted to keep the abortion time limit at 24 weeks, in keeping with scientific and medical consensus, hence no abortion amendments were added to the bill. Also the Abortion Act 1967 does not currently apply to Northern Ireland.

In September 2011 Alasdair McDonnell voted for Nadine Dorries's amendment to the Health and Social Care Bill, which was ultimately defeated by 368 to 118 votes[2]. This amendment would have stopped BPAS and Marie Stopes from providing counselling for women with unwanted pregnancies and allowed "independent" counselling including that provided by faith-based organisations.

Reported quotes on foetal abnormalities: (January/February 2015)


In November 2010 Dr McDonnell signed three amended Early Day Motions critical of homeopathy: EDM 284A1: BMA Annual Representative Meeting Motions on Homeopathy[3], EDM 285A1: Effect of Homeopathic Remedies on Breast Cancer Cells[4], and EDM 286A1: Homeopathic Medicines in the Treatment of Moderate to Severe Depression[5]. These amended motions were all against the use of homeopathy, and highlighted flaws in studies that had been welcomed by the original pro-homeopathy motions.

Ayurvedic Medicine

In November 2016, Dr McDonnell signed Early Day Motion 507: Celebration of First Ayurveda Day on 27 October 2016[6], which states a belief that "Ayurveda's integration into the NHS would ensure freedom of choice in healthcare for the populace; and calls on the Government to introduce an Ayurveda Chair." (Information about Ayurvedic medicine here.)

Protection of the title of Doctor

In June 2009, the MP signed Early Day Motion 1635, a call for the protection of the title of doctor to avoid confusion caused by the use of the term doctor by practitioners of complementary medicine. [7]


Following the adverts bought by the Atheist Bus Campaign on public transport in January 2009, Alasdair McDonnell signed Early Day Motion 424 claiming that the rationale behind the adverts was that non-religious people can be less careful about their lifestyle choices and life's consequences[8].

Faith based Adoption Agencies

In 2007, Alasdair McDonnell signed Early Day Motion 742 calling on the government to exclude "faith based" adoption agencies from the Equality Act to avoid such agencies being forced to consider gay couples.[9]

Same-Sex Marriage

Dr McDonnell voted in favour of the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill at its third reading in May 2013[10].

Charles Darwin

Alasdair McDonnell was one of 79 MPs who signed Early Day Motion 377 noting the achievements of Charles Darwin, and calling for Darwin's birthday to be designated a public holiday to honour "one of the fathers of modern science and one of Britain's greatest, if not the greatest, scientific minds."

Science Funding

In September and November 2010, Alasdair McDonnell signed Early Day Motions 707: Government Funding for UK Science[11], and 767: Science is Vital Campaign[12]. Both motions supported investment in science in the face of cuts anticipated in the coalition government's forthcoming spending review (though the conclusions of the review had already been announced by the time McDonnel signed EDM 767).

Libel Law Reform

In January 2010, Alasdair McDonnell signed the amended Early Day Motion 423A1 calling for a reform of the English libel law[13]. The motion noted that human rights activists, scientists, writers and journalists are currently prevented from publishing, and the public prevented from reading, matters of strong public interest due to the chilling effect of the law. The amended version added a statement of the belief that "libel laws discriminate against average and low paid people when victims of defamatory comment in the pages of national publications".



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