Remember the good old days when Sinn Féin was so purely Republican when they would not stand in Elections…north and south? They called themselves “Anti H Block Prisoner” in 1981 and got elected to Westminster, An Dáil and local councils in Norn Iron.
Remember all that internal fuss when they decided to stand for An Dáil and Stormont and take their seats. Now SF is in government in Norn Iron and hope to be in government in the Republic of Ireland next year.
Of course they are standing for election to Westminster next month and the outgoing five MPs do not take their Westminster seats.
The Oath Of Allegiance? Principle? The general assumption is that Sinn Féin would love to get into Westminster but they cant offend their core membership and many of their voters. To many nationalists and republicans, the “Oath” IS an issue. The wording sticks in the throats of republicans….in England, Scotland, Wales as well as Norn Iron.
It is a well documented argument. Is it better to be inside the House of Commons or outside the House of Commons to necessarily represent a constituency. SDLP takes one view. Sinn Féin takes another view. I dont want to repeat those arguments.
Suffice to say that Sinn Féin will not play any part in post-Election Westminster politics. SF will not be part of any “coalition talks” (there is no guarantee SDLP will either) and nor will SF be voting on any issue affecting Norn Iron as it goes thru a British Parliament.
And yet they will pledge to fight “Tory Welfare Cuts”….recent local U-turns excepted.
But they will not fight legislation line by line in Westminster. And they will call for global justice like a Palestinian nation ….but not vote for it.
The commonly held view is that Sinn Féin are looking for a way into Westminster.
Mickey Brady in Newry-Armagh says abstention is the current policy. Michelle Gildernew in Fermanagh-South Tyrone says “Never Say Never”. Coincidently these are the two most vulnerable Sinn Féin seats.
It is a dilemna isnt it?
I propose a solution. Sinn Féin go to Westminster and pretend to take the Oath of Allegiance ….say “An Ainm an Athair agus an Mhic….” In Irish and the House of Commons clerks will have no idea what they are saying. Then they take their places on the green benches….but on principle only sit on one buttock.
It would be uncomfortable but principled. Some might say it is bare-faced “cheek” (sic) but I like to think of it as “Half-Arsed”….which is in line with a lot of other SF policies.
I hope they get it all sorted out in the next few years….in time for Gerry Adams to take his place in the House of Lords.