Current Affairs Irish Republican Politics

Sinn Féin’s Westminster MPs Should Take Up Their Seats. In Dáil Éireann

The likelihood that the withdrawal agreement between the European Union and the United Kingdom will be defeated by a majority vote in the House of Commons has led to renewed calls for Sinn Féin to take up its seats in the Palace of Westminster on behalf of Irish voters in the UK’s disputed territory on the island of Ireland. On Monday the Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar, was quite forthright in his view that the seven SF MPs should attend the British parliament or resign from their positions. Which is somewhat bizarre, given that the republican party has always contested general elections in the Six Counties on the basis of abstentionism; that is, a refusal to recognise the authority of a foreign legislature to pass laws for any part of this country. A policy which has made the group the leading political voice of northern nationalism.

So, why on earth would Sinn Féin abandon a principle which has proven to be highly popular with its voters? Especially when history has taught us that the presence of Irish MPs in London has had zero effect on the deliberations of Westminster, as the northern SDLP aptly illustrated during its forty year sojourn in the British parliament (and as its several political predecessors proved before it). On the contrary, there is every reason to believe that the arrival in the House of Commons of republican legislators from Ireland would very likely inflame public opinion in Britain, in favour of the Brexit camp, with unpredictable consequences both inside and outside the chamber.

Logically, there is only one place that elected Irish MPs should be seeking admittance to. And that is to the national parliament of Ireland: Dáil Éireann in Dublin. In the run-up to the centenary of the meeting of the First Dáil on the 21st of January 1919, Sinn Féin should be putting forward motions in the Oireachtas demanding that Westminster legislators from the Six Counties, regardless of community or allegiance, should be granted non-voting observer status in an Dáil. Likewise, in the wake of any rejection of the EU-UK draft deal by the House of Commons, northern nationalist MPs should be arriving at the gates of Leinster House and requesting the right to take up their seats there and refusing to leave until forcibly carried away in cuffs by An Garda Síochána. And they should do the same thing again in January 2019, supported by every elected MLA and councillor in the Six Counties. That is the proper response to the hypocritical calls by the party’s critics and the British apologists in the press still hoping to give some form of ersatz legitimacy to Britain’s troublesome occupation of the north-eastern corner of our island nation.

Never underestimate the political value of a good PR event and its ability to embarrass your electoral rivals or put them on the backfoot.

11 comments on “Sinn Féin’s Westminster MPs Should Take Up Their Seats. In Dáil Éireann

  1. Eoin Ó Riain

    Those advocating this policy (taking the oath in the British Parliament) are in effect asking these people to take an oath (or affirmation) they do not intend to keep. If they took a oath like that in court would it not be called perjury? Those of them who are Christians would be calling on God as a witness to a lie. In the Catholic Church this was and maybe still is a reserved sin!
    In the early 19th century Danial O’Connell, a Royalist it is true, refused to take the oath of Supremecy which acknowledged the Monarch of England as head of the Church. His protest eventually led to the removal of that oath for Members of Parliment and he could take his seat in 1829.
    Oaths of loyalty to the Monarch in other positions (in law) have been removed in the 6 Counties. Why can’t the same happen in Westminster?


    • Caroline Cunningham

      Exactly. While we’re at it. …time we had a Republic of GB. Would solve a lot of problems.


      • Jams O'Donnell

        No.The only thing which will solve these problems is the re-unification of NI with the rest of Ireland, and the independence of Scotland (and possibly Wales much later on).


  2. Agreed – bring it on.


  3. SF are rudderless and Mary Lou has not a clue, joined in the water charges when it was too late and we saw the right balls up with the Presidential farce. Pierce Dougherty would make a better fist of it


  4. Breandán Mac Séarraigh

    Jesus, Sionnach. Your headline had me going there for a sec. Aontaím leat. Mar de gnáth.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Abstentionist SF MPs have been re-elected to 5 NI constituencies, some for more than 20 years. Their abstentionism has been ratified by the people time and time again.

    It’s anti-democratic arrogance to assert that the people keep voting the wrong way.


  6. Should the 7 Sf MP’s be allowed to take their seats in the Dáil its an idea but I don’t think the southern establishment would like it much. But would solve the problem of representation of their constituencies in parliament… the non recognition of British rule would be maintained. Another suggestions is that having the minster of foreign affairs speaking on matter concerning the north, he should be replaced by a minster of unification like in South Korea who fought a far bloodier war than we would ever fight. Its ridiculous to have a minster for “foreign affairs” talking about part of Ireland as being foreign. It shows how much the ruling elite in the south “kotows” to the Brits


    • Oh, I doubt that the other parties would go along with, even non-voting, non-speaking observer status. But the point would be made. Though, maybe I4C might agree? And maybe PBP? Though not the SP.

      Yep, a Dept and Minister for Northern Affairs is well overdue.


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