Talking of the Democratic Unionist Party, in the immediate aftermath of the general election in the United Kingdom, Marco Biagi, a former Scottish National Party minister, claimed on social media that the DUP leader Arlene Foster had written to him in late 2015 requesting a block on same-sex couples from the north-east of Ireland marrying in Scotland. The devolved government in Edinburgh turned down the request, made when the Fermanagh MLA was serving as a finance minister in the regional power-sharing executive at Stormont. Foster has largely avoided questioning on the allegation, dismissing it out of hand from the get-go:
“I’m not quite sure what he (Mr Biagi) was referring to but it certainly wasn’t a letter from me (my italics) 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.”
However the offending letter has just been published through a Freedom of Information Request by Buzzfeed UK:
…Foster wrote to the Scottish government in her role as a minister in 2015 setting out concerns over legislation which allowed Northern Irish couples to convert civil partnerships to marriages in Scotland.
Since 2015, Scotland has been the only place in the UK where couples with a Northern Irish civil partnership can simply convert it to a marriage without first going through the complex divorce process on the civil partnership.
However, Foster, and the DUP minister before her, Simon Hamilton, wrote to the then-Scottish government minister for community empowerment, Marco Biagi, urging him to exclude Northern Irish couples from the legislation.