16 February 2006 Edition
Opposition to participation in Westminster reiterated
Sinn Féin has had expenses for its Westminster MPs restored. This follows a decision by the British Government to reverse a discriminatory ban on republican MPs collecting the expenses to which they are entitled, on the foot of of spurious allegations against Sinn Féin by the so-called Independent Monitoring Commission (IMC).
Sinn Féin Newry and Armagh MP Conor Murphy has criticised the SDLP for its opposition to the restoration of Sinn Féin MP's expenses. The SDLP were motivated by greed and a desire to maintain a distorted electoral playing pitch. The withholding of these monies represented discrimination against a majority of northern nationalists. Sinn Féin were entitled to the monies on the basis of it's electoral mandate. The SDLP were backing this discrimination and were at one with the DUP on the issue.
"The SDLP opposition to an end to discrimination against the vast majority of nationalists in the North who vote for Sinn Féin is motivated purely by greed, self interest and a desire to try and maintain a distorted electoral playing field.
"The SDLP has been claiming these monies for years. In addition to this Policy Development Grants which should by paid to Sinn Féin in line with our electoral strength continue to be denied to us and are instead divided up and given to the SDLP, UUP and DUP.
"Unlike the SDLP Sinn Féin are opposed to all discrimination from whatever quarter. We will continue to pursue national and democratic rights for all Irish people and will not put narrow self-interest in the way of this objective."
In a separate though related development Sinn Féin MP Michelle Gildernew has reiterated the party's opposition to taking seats in the British parliment.
"Sinn Féin are not interested, unlike others in the SDLP, in taking Oaths of Allegiance to the British Queen or receiving gongs or awards from her. But this is not the principle reason behind our abstentionist position, a position shared by the vast majority of nationalists in the North.
"Sinn Féin are absolutely opposed to the British Government exercising jurisdiction over part of over country and we will not legitimise this practice by sitting in their parliament."
Gildernew made the comments following calls by British Conservative spokesperson on the north David Liddington to alter the Oath of Allegiance for MPs in the mistaken belief that such tinkering could induce Sinn Féin to take their seats.