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An end to abstentionism?

Mark Devenport | 16:37 UK time, Monday, 1 November 2010

Iain Dale has beaten me to it, but it's quirky enough to repeat in any case. Young Sinn Fein politician Connor Morgan made his maiden speech in the Commons, treating his audience of young parliamentarians to a few phrases in Irish. Of course it was the youth parliament not the real thing, but as Iain Dale writes, if Connor Morgan can do it, why not Gerry Adams or Martin McGuinness?


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  • 1. At 04:41am on 02 Nov 2010, Rutherglen Redwing wrote:

    Connor Morgan didn't have to swear an oath of allegiance to the queen, for one thing.

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  • 2. At 2:32pm on 02 Nov 2010, maxmerit wrote:

    Sinn Fein do not have to take the oath of allegiance to the queen, a dispensation has been made available to them. Abstentionism does not work, but it will probably take them another 30 years to figure that one out. Meanwhile tens of thousands people here have no effective representation.

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  • 3. At 4:33pm on 02 Nov 2010, seanthenoisemaker wrote:

    Hold on, what special dispensation? Now, as someone who has repeatedly protested his lack of franchise in Northern Ireland (I'm an atheist, who do YOU suggest I vote for?), this is something that interests me greatly. Surely if there was special dispensation for Sinn Fein MPs to sit in the Commons without swearing the3 oath, wouldn't the SDLP have made a much bigger deal of this than they have already?

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  • 4. At 09:06am on 03 Nov 2010, Grand_Old_Duke wrote:

    I only wish that the DUP could take a leaf out of Sinn Fein's book and go abstentionist too. Every time one of them speaks I cringe. The whole lot of them are nothing more than an embarrassment.

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  • 5. At 12:43pm on 03 Nov 2010, slm1994 wrote:

    There is no dispensation that I know of but was there not some sort of accomadation re salaries. Anyway the oath is actually only a secondary thing. The reason for abstention is that by sitting in that place, Sinn Fein would by their very presence be recognising that Britain had, still has and will continue to have a legitimate right to have ruled Ireland and continue to rule a part of it. This was the very reason for setting up the First Dail. We dont ask for our country back, you stole it so we take it back by our own actions and not as a gift from Britain. That is the logic of abstentionism as far as I understand it so even if the oath was removed Sinn Fein still could not take seats in what they see as a foreign parliament. Besides how could they pursue a republican agenda after swearing loyalty to the English monarch and all her descendants

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  • 6. At 1:14pm on 03 Nov 2010, hoboroad wrote:

    In the House of Commons, after election, an MP must swear an Oath of Allegiance before taking his or her seat. Members who object to oath swearing may make a Solemn Affirmation instead. In the House of Lords the Oath of Allegiance must be taken, or Solemn Affirmation made, by every Lord, on introduction and at the beginning of every new Parliament, before he or she can sit and vote in the House of Lords. While holding a copy of the New Testament (or, in the case of a Jew or Muslim, the Old Testament or the Koran) a Member swears: "I€¦..swear by Almighty God that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth, her heirs and successors, according to law. So help me God." The text of the affirmation is: - "I €¦€¦ do solemnly, sincerely and truly declare and affirm that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth, her heirs and successors according to law".

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  • 7. At 6:40pm on 03 Nov 2010, seanthenoisemaker wrote:

    So the solemn affirmation is just a non-religious form of the oath, got that. Still, it doesn't really apply to the principle Sinn Fein adopts.

    sim1994, why is it that Sinn Fein will take part in Stormont but not Westminster? Stormont is nominally accorded its power and place by Westminster decree, so surely by sitting in Stormont they are giving legitimacy to Westminster's right to devolve power to Stormont?

    I understand why one and not the other; Stormont because of peace and practicality and Westminster because the political price is not worth the political gain. I'm just interested in how Sinn Fein reacts to this challenge to their dogma, and why hasn't the SDLP made a bigger deal of this massive anomoly?

    Just to reiterate, I'm an atheist, so I have no allegiance to any party in NI; none of them seek to represent me.

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  • 8. At 10:51am on 05 Nov 2010, DisgustedinDERRY wrote:


    Why would Republicans want to swear an oath to a foreign Queen in a foreign parliament. Any Irish man or woman that does so, is a prop to unionist and British policies in Ireland, past and present.

    Just ask Margaret the unionist Ritchie... Oh Yes!!!

    I'm wondering will Helen Quigley stand for Sinn Fein in the next Assembly election???

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