Thursday, October 21, 2010

Sinn Fein, the Oath and Bottomley's creative ambiguity

Peter Bottomley, Conservative MP for Worthing West and junior minister in the NIO from 1989 to 1990, has tabled an Early Day Motion:
"That this House believes it is right to use participation in parliamentary elections and in parliamentary debates to preserve or to alter the Union,"
... or weaken, or destroy it?

It continues:
"Recognises that the wordings established in the Promissory Oaths Act 1868 and the Oaths Act 1978 give an excuse to Sinn Fein MPs not to take their seats;

"Welcomes their ability and their decisions to take their seats in the Irish Parliament and the Northern Ireland Assembly; and is prepared to consider appropriate alternative affirmations or procedures that end the present stand-off."
Leaving aside, whether the removal of the Oath would make the blind bit of difference to Sinn Fein and their decision to boycott Westminster, the preamble to the motion is a weird one. Is the implicit argument that it is only through participating at Westminster Sinn Fein can ever hope to destroy the Union?

Or should it have actually read: "That this House believes it is a right to..."?

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