In response to my letter proposing that Sinn Féin Mps should now take their seats in Westminster (see blog of 6th April), the following Sinn Féin response is published today in the Irish Examiner, under the heading Foreign parliament? No thanks
ON the off-chance that Peter Molloy was actually trying to make a serious argument (Irish Examiner letters, April 11), I would like to point out the following: Sinn Féin has agreed to enter a power-sharing government with unionists and others in order to deliver equal representation for Irish people in an Irish parliament. It has no desire or need to sit in a foreign imperialist parliament that goes to war at the drop of a hat, and which has never served the interests of the Irish people.
As abstentionist MPs from Westminster, Sinn Féin representatives have served their constituents well. Both the nationalist electorate and the failed SDLP candidates who desire the grandeur of Westminster are testimony to this. While Sinn Féin would never take its lead from what Mr de Valera did or did not do in the past, Mr Molloy should be aware that Dev’s hollow oath was taken as a means to take his party into an Irish parliament to serve Irish people, albeit a parliament that represented only part of the nation.
Far from Sinn Féin sitting in a foreign parliament which caused centuries of pain, destruction and division in Ireland, it is about to serve in the two existing Irish assemblies. From there, it will work to establish one true Irish parliament, which will serve all the people on this island equally. If Mr Molloy really wants to make a link between de Valera’s past and Sinn Féin today, then he should consider this: the one seat Dev could not capture in the past — West Belfast — is now a Sinn Féin stronghold. Mr Molloy can rest assured that Sinn Féin will succeed where Dev failed, when he abandoned the outstanding national issue in the past.
Finally, as a well-meaning gesture to Mr Paisley and unionism in general, is Mr Molloy prepared to ask his local TD to switch allegiance to the House of Commons as an act of good faith?
Cllr Kieran McCarthy, Sinn Féin, 89 Russell Heights, Cobh, Co Cork
My response, emailed today to the Examiner.
Sinn Fein Cllr Kieran McCarthy (Examiner Letters 14th April) dismisses my proposal that his party should take up their seats at Westminster. He asserts that Sinn Fein “has no desire or need to sit in a foreign imperialist parliament” and that “as abstentionist MPs from Westminster, Sinn Féin representatives have served their constituents well”. It seems that the “no surrender” mentality is alive and well in Cobh.
The Good Friday Agreement, democratically endorsed by the populations of both parts of this island, settled the constitutional status of Northern Ireland: it will remain part of the United Kingdom unless and until a majority of the people there vote to change that status. How then could Westminster be legitimately be described as a “foreign parliament” by elected Northern Ireland MPs? As for abstentionist Sinn Fein MPs serving their constituents well, how exactly are they serving their unionist constituents?
Representation is an essential ingredient of any democracy and elected representatives are supposed to serve all their constituents, not just the ones who voted for them. This is particularly important in the single-seat, first-past-the-post Westminster system. How are the interests of Northern Ireland farmers, business, fisheries etc represented by abstentionist MPs? In the Republic, we see how active are the lobby groups representing such interests when key ministerial decisions are being made in Brussels.
Cllr McCarthy asks if, as a well-meaning gesture to Mr Paisley and unionism in general, I’d be prepared to ask my local TD to switch allegiance to the House of Commons as an act of good faith? Happily, in the case of the 3 sitting Government TDs.
However, the proposal to grant Dail Eireann speaking rights to elected Northern Ireland MPs should not even be under consideration for MPs who refuse to exercise their speaking rights, on behalf of all their constituents, in the Parliament to which they have actually been elected.
Footnote: My respone published by the Irish Examiner 19th April.
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