Brexit and abstentionism
Sir, – It’s all very well to cast aspersions at the DUP for trying to exert whatever influence they can on the Brexit debate in the parliament of Westminster. And influence they certainly have at the moment with a hung parliament. We may not like their politics down here, but we should understand that the DUP’s 10 MPs at Westminster are there to represent the views of a large section of the unionist community in Northern Ireland.
Sadly, with Sinn Féin’s ongoing policy of abstention from the UK parliament, the nationalist community have no one to speak up for them in the Brexit debate at Westminster. It is a pity, for example, that there is no member for South Down or no member for Fermanagh and South Tyrone present in the House of Commons to challenge some of the pie-in-the-sky positions emanating from the member for Uxbridge and South Ruislip and other hard Brexiteers on the issue of the Border.
At such a “crunch time” in the discussions (Mary Lou McDonald’s words not mine), when historic decisions are to be made on Brexit that will have profound implications for the people of Ireland, North and South, and for our future relationship with Britain outside the EU, it is most regrettable that Sinn Féin’s seven MPs will be absent when the terms of the UK’s exit from the EU are debated in the House of Commons and the crucial votes are cast. A missed opportunity indeed. – Yours, etc,