The Northern Irish Attorney General John Larkin set off a firestorm of criticism after it was revealed he had publicly compared abortion to 'putting a bullet in the back of the head' of a baby.

Larkin's hard hitting comments have been described as 'brutal' by one pro-choice minister.

According to the Belfast Telegraph, Larkin made the comments in a May 2008 radio discussion, six months before he was appointed as the north's Attorney General.

Larkin's personal views on abortion have become a political issue now that he has made an offer to assist a Northern Assembly committee investigation into the Marie Stopes family planning clinic that has just opened in Belfast.

In the light of his 2008 statement, there is mounting political pressure on the Attorney General to step back from his offer.

To date, only the Catholic nationalist SDLP party has defended Larkin's views.

The UUP, the Alliance Party, and Sinn Fein have all been critical and even the staunchly religious DUP have expressed some reservations.

Asked in 2008 about whether abortion would sometimes be justified in the case of foetal abnormality, Larkin said: 'If one is prepared to contemplate the destruction of a highly disabled, unborn child in the womb, one should also be prepared to contemplate, I think, putting a bullet in the back of the head of the child two days after it's born.'

Last week Larkin tackled the Marie Stopes issue publicly in a letter he sent to the Stormont Justice Committee, which accused the clinic of seeking a change in the north's abortion law.

Larkin urged the committee to launch a probe into the facility, offering to question witnesses, to issue injunctions, and to assist in any way he could.

Larkin clarified that he was acting in his role as 'Guardian of the Rule of Law,' part of his job description, but his main role is as chief legal adviser to the Executive.

UUP leader Mike Nesbitt expressed surprise at Larkin’s comments, telling the Telegraph: 'This enforces the need for clarity regarding the role of the Attorney General. It is my understanding that he offers legal advice on devolved issues to the Executive. He is not employed to advise the Assembly.'

Northern Ireland Attorney General John LarkinPA