Thursday 23 March 2017

Sinn Féin won't show up for Brexit vote in Westminster

Members of the Sinn Fein delegation Kathleen Funchion TD, President of Sinn Fein Gerry Adams TD , Deputy First Minister of Northern Ireland Martin McGuinness during the All-Island Civic Dialogue on Brexit at Royal Hospital Kilmainham, Dublin. Photo: Gareth Chaney Collins
Members of the Sinn Fein delegation Kathleen Funchion TD, President of Sinn Fein Gerry Adams TD , Deputy First Minister of Northern Ireland Martin McGuinness during the All-Island Civic Dialogue on Brexit at Royal Hospital Kilmainham, Dublin. Photo: Gareth Chaney Collins
Niall O'Connor

Niall O'Connor

A Sinn Féin MEP has insisted the party has "no intention" of changing its policy of abstaining from Westminster - despite the North's Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness signalling a possible review.

Sinn Féin's long-held policy of its MPs not taking their seats in Westminster has come under enormous scrutiny.

Lynn Boylan has rejected Mr McGuinness’s kite-flying. Photo: Gareth Chaney Collins
Lynn Boylan has rejected Mr McGuinness’s kite-flying. Photo: Gareth Chaney Collins

Last week's ruling by London's High Court means the UK parliament must ratify the decision to leave the EU.

Questioned about the ruling on Friday, Mr McGuinness refused to rule out a change of policy, saying "who knows where all of this could end up?"

But Mr McGuinness's own party colleague, Dublin MEP Lynn Boylan, has now completed ruled out such a scenario.

"Sinn Féin's abstentionist policy regarding Westminster is based on our republican politics," Ms Boylan said.

"We put that proposition to the people in the North during elections and people vote for us with that position included in our policy manifesto.

"Sinn Féin MPs will not be taking seats in Westminster as they stood on that clear abstentionist platform and they are therefore mandated by our voters not to attend. We have no intention of reviewing that position."

Fine Gael MEP Brian Hayes said Sinn Féin "cannot have its cake and eat it".

"How can Irish voters, especially those who voted to remain, have their voice heard and defended when Sinn Féin choose not to show up?

"Running away at this time when our interest, both North and South, is so connected to what happens in the UK represents a complete betrayal to Irish voters," Mr Hayes told the Irish Independent.

"Sinn Féin would be better advised to get over themselves and realise that their voice at Westminster, especially when working with others such as the SNP, could actually help Ireland deal with Brexit."

Ms Boylan said Mr Hayes "doesn't understand the concept of a democratic mandate".

Irish Independent

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