Irish Republican News · May 13, 2005
[Irish Republican News]

[Irish Republican News]
Northern MPs not wanted in Dail - McDowell

Sinn Féin has clashed with Dublin’s Minister for Justice Michael McDowell on the issue of the right of northern MPs to representation in the 26-County parliament.

McDowell described an appeal in this regard by Sinn Féin following the election of 8 nationalist MPs in the British general election as ‘a concession which was not on the cards’.

Newly-elected Sinn Féin MP Conor Murphy has called for the 18 MPs in Northern Ireland to be allowed speak in both houses of the Dublin parliament, the Dail and Seanad,

On Wednesday, Newry Armagh MP Mr Murphy defended his party’s decision to stay out of the Westminster chamber and argued instead for speaking rights in the Dail in Dublin.

Speaking in London as he collected passes to access parliamentary facilities, he said: “I have to saw it is hugely frustrating as an Irish citizen living on one end of the border that the Irish Government is denying us the right to contribute to debates which effect our everyday lives.”

The issue was a key element of the power-sharing agreement which foundered last December.

But today Mr McDowell, the most virulently anti-republican member of the Dublin government, said the concession was “simply not on the cards.”

He said Sinn Féin representatives had sought election to Westminster and should therefore take part in its parliament.

“Primarily, Dail Eireann is a place for people who are elected by the people of this State,” he said in Dublin.

The minister said the newly-elected five Sinn Féin MPs had plenty of opportunities to air their views at public debates.

Mr Murphy criticised McDowell’s response as “typically partitionist, short sighted and flawed”.

“Since he arrived in the Department of Justice Michael McDowell has been on a one man anti-Sinn Féin crusade,” said Mr Murphy. “In that time also the Sinn Féin vote right across Ireland has increased and we have secured representation on every elected tier on the island. The same cannot of corse be said of Mr McDowell’s party.

“The issue of representation for Northern elected representatives in the Dail was put on the agenda by Sinn Féin. In various negotiations the Irish government repeatedly insisted that this was an issue not for them but for the all party [parliamentary] committee.

“Given this and the fact that the Committee has reported and recommended movement on this key issue it seems strange that Michael McDowell is now claiming jurisdiction over an issue which the Irish government previously claimed is nothing whatsoever to do with him.

“ The rights and entitlements of Irish citizens living in the six counties are not concessions as McDowell would have us believe. His remarks on this issue today are typically partitionist, short sighted and flawed. It is a disgrace that the SDLP feted this man during the recent election campaign and now he seeks to impinge upon the democratic rights of their MPs.

“ Nationalists and Republicans know exactly where Michael McDowell is coming from. He will always put narrow party political and partitionist interests before the achievement of national and democratic rights and before the advancement of the peace process.”

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© 2005 Irish Republican News