Sinn Fein’s Gerry Adams could be forced into court to face allegations he has abandoned 16,000 of his west Belfast constituents, it was claimed today.
A petition signed by thousands of people in the staunchly loyalist Shankill Road district claims the Sinn Fein MP has failed them because he has boycotted the House of Commons.
West Belfast independent councillor Frank McCoubrey is now set to send the list to Speaker Michael Martin in the first stage of a campaign he hopes will lead to the European courts.
Mr McCoubrey claimed: “This is a fundamental breach of these people’s human rights. We are basically a forgotten community.”
Sinn Fein’s four MPs are blocked from sitting in the Commons because they refuse to swear an oath of allegiance to the Queen.
Mr Martin will be asked to confirm Mr Adams’s record of attendance and any disciplinary action possible against members who fail to represent their constituents in the House.
He is also to be urged to enforce any available penalty on the Sinn Fein President or, if he refuses, explain why.
Once the Speaker responds to the letter, signed by 3,000 constituents, lawyers are planning to apply for a judicial review at the Northern Ireland High Court.
With the legal fight expected to cost thousands of pounds, businessmen and other prominent community representatives in the Shankill area are funding the campaign.
It is understood efforts are also being made to persuade a high profile constitutional lawyer from London to take the case.
Mr McCoubrey vowed: “If we don’t get a result here then we go to Europe.
“There is an electorate of 16,000 people on the Shankill Road who have been misrepresented because Gerry Adams won’t take his seat.”
The former Deputy Lord Mayor of Belfast claimed chronic unemployment, education and health problems in the area have been ignored for far too long.
“Over the past 10 years there have been four major employers closed down on the Shankill Road with the loss of thousands of jobs,” he said.
“Only three children in this whole area passed their 11-Plus exam last year and our MP should be asking why this is happening.”
As a member of the devolved Northern Ireland Assembly Mr Adams represents his constituents at Stormont. But security matters are still dealt with from London.
Mr McCoubrey also claimed nationalists and republicans have been deprived of his backing in the fight to get tougher sentences for car thieves menacing parts of west Belfast.
“Gerry Adams is not even representing his own people,” he said.
No one from Sinn Fein was available for comment.