Owen Paterson was speaking during his first question session by the newly appointed Northern Ireland Affairs committee in Parliament yesterday.If he genuinely believes it, then saying that once the Oath has been tampered with there would be "no longer any barrier" is a piece of what is, by now, disturbingly typical Paterson naivety. Sinn Fein MPs sitting in the House of Commons would be their final implicit acknowledgement that both they and their "military" wing, the IRA has been well and truly defeated by the British state.
He revealed how he has told the republicans to come up with an alternative wording to the current pledge of allegiance to Queen and country.
But he was urged to set a deadline for them to take up their seats in the House of Commons or give up their right to claim expenses.
Mr Paterson told MPs he was absolutely clear there was no longer any barrier for Sinn Fein turning up to Westminster and was in talks with Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness about possible changes.
"There is no reason for them to stay away," he said. "I have said if the oath is an obstacle, come to me with an alternative text, we already do it for people who are not Christians".
Plenty of things have happened in N.Irish politics, over the last 15 years or so which we never thought we'd see, but the Rt Honourable members for West Belfast, Mid Ulster, West Tyrone, Fermanagh/S Tyrone, Newry and Armagh sitting on the green benches of our nation's parliament is still well beyond the realms of fantasy.
Which means... high time to sort out those expenses.