Sinn Fein say they will not take up Westminster seats

Sinn Fein's President Gerry Adams and Northern Ireland leader Michelle O'Neill. Picture: Getty Images
Sinn Fein's President Gerry Adams and Northern Ireland leader Michelle O'Neill. Picture: Getty Images
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Sinn Fein are expected to fly to Westminster amid speculation they may seek to derail Tory-DUP talks.

The Irish Republican party’s seven MPs will visit their Commons offices, sparking concern among the Conservatives that they may attempt to derail Theresa May’s proposed deal with their rivals the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP).

The Sun reported the party have not ruled out taking their seats for the first time in order to vote through a Labour Queen’s Speech if Jeremy Corbyn offered them a referendum on unifying Ireland.

However, a Sinn Fein spokesman told The Scotsman: “I can confirm that we will not be taking up our seats in Westminster.

“Sinn Féin stand in British general elections on an abstentionist platform.”

He added: “The citizens of the North who voted for Sinn Féin had a choice of candidates. They supported Sinn Féin. By so doing they turned their backs on Westminster entirely.”

Sinn Fein confirmed that its MPs will travel to Westminster for the House of Commons induction day for newcomers and will sign up for office space, register for staff allowances and expenses.

The party has a century-long policy of abstention in the Parliament as it opposes Northern Ireland remaining part of the UK.

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The party - led by Michelle O’Neill in Northern Ireland - have occupied offices in Westminster since 2002 but its MPs have never taken up their seats in the House of Commons.

Yesterday, DUP leader Arlene Foster told Sinn Fein leaders if they are concerned about her party’s enhanced influence at Westminster they should move to restore devolution at Stormont.

Mrs Foster delivered the blunt message to the republican party as she rejected its claim the anticipated DUP/Conservative deal at Westminster would undermine the political process in Northern Ireland.

“If others decide that they are not coming back into the devolved administration here in Northern Ireland then those issues will have to be dealt with at Westminster,” she said.

“It is really for Sinn Fein to decide where they want those powers to lie.”

Her remarks came after Sinn Fein and other Stormont parties insisted Northern Ireland Secretary James Brokenshire could not chair the efforts to restore power-sharing.

They are adamant the UK government can no longer cast itself as a neutral facilitator in the process, given Theresa May’s intent to form a minority government with the help of a confidence-and-supply deal with the unionist party.