Sinn Féin has ruled out any possibility of taking its seats at Westminster in the event of another hung parliament at the next general election.
Party veteran and Stormont Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness moved to scotch speculation that the long standing abstentionist policy could be ditched in a bid to secure more political leverage.
He conceded that party faithful had posed the question of the leadership “frequently” at a series of town hall style engagement events over the last number of weeks.
“That question has been asked and we have made it absolutely clear that our position in relation to not taking our seats won’t change,” he said.
Mr McGuinness addressed the issue after meeting with political counterparts from the rest of the UK and Ireland at the British Irish Council summit on the Isle of Man.
Sinn Féin currently has five MPs elected to Westminster.
“I know there will be an argument amongst some people in the event that things are very, very close that those votes could be influential in terms of the formation of the next government,” he said.
“I don’t envisage any circumstances in which Sinn Féin would be taking their seats.
“Although I do have to say I think the outcome of the next British general election could be among one of the most fascinating outcomes in a very, very long time.”