Sinn Féin and Westminster - Time for party to finally move on

Ireland’s former ambassador to the US has turned a speech by Gerry Adams on its head, urging elected Sinn Féin members to take their seats in Westminster. 

Seán Donlon quoted Mr Adams’ recent speech arguing that a “new approach” is needed to deal with unionists now that the DUP is a major player in the British government.

Sinn Féin’s traditional objection stems mostly from the requirement of sitting MPs to take an oath of allegiance to the British monarch. Last month Mr Adams ruled out taking their seats.

Writing in, he said: “I am an Irish republican. I believe in the sovereignty of the Irish people. I am against monarchies and elites of all kinds.”

That is more an argument for refusing to contest the Westminster elections in the first place. Éamon de Valera took a similar, though modified, oath for political reasons, declaring it “an empty formula”, and paving the way for decades of Fianna Fáil dominance.

Why shouldn’t Mr Adams be pragmatic and give serious consideration to doing likewise? Sinn Féin owes it to the people of this island to provide an Irish nationalist voice at Westminster.

Sinn Féin won seven seats, the DUP 10. They may not be able to upset the Conservative/DUP pact, but would make Theresa May’s government engage with Irish nationalists in a more meaningful way.

The world has moved on since Brexit and the recent general election in the UK. So should Sinn Féin.


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