Tyrone GAA football manager Mickey Harte has been told to "stick to the GAA", after he released a statement on Northern Ireland's abortion debate.

Harte, a devout Catholic, had appealed to politicians to support a plan that prevents private health clinics from carrying out terminations.

Abortion is currently illegal in Northern Ireland, unless a woman’s life is at risk. But medical abortions up to nine weeks are available at the Marie Stopes family private clinic in Belfast, which opened in October amid massive controversy.

A proposal to be put to the Northern Ireland Assembly would restrict abortion procedures and only permit them to be carried out in exceptional circumstances in National Health Service (NHS) premises.

Sinn Fein has said it is against the amendment as well as Alliance MLA Anna Lo.

Harte called on politicians to "put aside normal party political differences" and back the amendment to the Criminal Justice Bill.

"I would urge every Assembly member to put aside normal party political differences and join as one on this issue that unites all of our people," the GAA manager said in a statement.

"Every abortion that takes place is tragic for both mother and child which requires the highest level of care from our medical profession.

"This care is best found in the NHS that can be trusted, with no financial gain, to act in the best interests of both mother and child within the law that gives protection to the unborn child," he added.

In response South Belfast MLA Anna Lo  told the Belfast Telegraph,  Harte should stick to the day job.

"He has expertise in GAA and I have a lot of respect for him. But really I think he should keep to his own field," she said.

"He should stick to GAA."