Activists gathered on the Stormont Estate in Belfast as some assembly members returned in a last-minute protest at the liberalisation of abortion laws [Paul Faith/AFP]

Women in Northern Ireland will have a legal right to safe abortions from midnight local time (23:00 GMT) on Monday, after a last-ditch bid to maintain the illegality of terminations fell apart in the regional legislature.

MPs at Westminster successfully amended a bill in the summer to include measures to end the near-blanket prohibition on abortion and introduce same-sex marriage, bringing Northern Ireland into regulatory alignment with the rest of the United Kingdom.

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The Executive Formation Act 2019 will also pave the way for the introduction of a pension for victims of the Troubles.

Once the 19th-century laws

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