Wednesday 7 December 2016

Bruton queries SF's refusal to sit in Westminster after queen meeting

Sarah MacDonald

Published 16/11/2015 | 02:30

John Bruton: said Sinn Féin should take Westminster seats
John Bruton: said Sinn Féin should take Westminster seats

Former Taoiseach John Bruton has hit out at Sinn Féin's abstentionist policy at Westminster and questioned how the party can refuse to take its seats when Martin McGuinness met the British queen in Windsor Castle in April of last year.

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In a new collection of essays, 'Faith in Politics', the former Fine Gael leader, whose career in Irish politics spanned from 1969 until 2004, including his term as Taoiseach from 1994 to 1997, questioned this "anomaly".

In an essay titled 'Martin McGuinness - SF at Westminster', Mr Bruton said "unfortunately" sections of the media had focused attention on the attendance of the North's Deputy First Minister at the dinner in Windsor Castle.

"To my mind, it is totally unexceptional that Mr McGuinness would receive, and accept, such an invitation, given the office he willingly holds," Mr Bruton writes.

Abstentionism

He says what remains exceptional, however, is the fact that Sinn Féin put forward members to be elected to Parliament in Westminster who then refuse to take their seats there, although they maintain offices in the Palace of Westminster and draw their pay and allowances there.

He suggests that if Sinn Féin spoke in the House of Commons they could work to affect the legislation that governs their constituents. "That is what all other MPs do, no matter how much they disagree with one another," he writes.

Elsewhere in the book, which is published by Currach Press, Mr Bruton suggests that the dynamic of a three-party coalition is easier to manage than that of a two-party coalition.

"If there is a difference between two of the parties, the third can often be the catalyst for compromise," he writes.

Irish Independent

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