SF and political arithmetic at Westminster
Sir, – A thousand nationalist signatories from both parts of Ireland have published an open letter to the Taoiseach calling on him to ensure the rights of northern nationalists in the wake of Brexit.
In response to a similar letter last year, the Taoiseach in December 2017 gave a pledge to protect the rights of northern nationalists and all Irish citizens “regardless of their political persuasion or religious beliefs”.
It is patently obvious to everyone that both the Taoiseach and the Tánaiste have been honouring that pledge throughout the current negotiations with the EU.
In their open letter these 1,000 signatories quite correctly cite the DUP as the main threat to these rights given the current dependence of the British Government on their votes.
Given this factual assessment, can I suggest that these same signatories write a similar letter to another political player who is able to exercise potentially what could be an even more pivotal influence in neutralising the influence of the DUP? That party is Sinn Féin. In any final vote at Westminster on the Brexit deal, Sinn Féin MPs would have seven votes. The political arithmetic at Westminster for securing the correct political decision which would protect the rights of citizens in both parts of Ireland is on a knife edge. In recent votes on the Brexit issue, the Conservative government was able to secure a majority of only five votes. These 1,000 signatories should ask Sinn Féin to end its sterile policy of abstention. After all, abstentionism has never been an issue of political principle for Sinn Féin. It operated a policy of abstentionism in relation to other elected institutions including the Dáil and Stormont and ended that policy when it suited it. And on this occasion ending its abstention of Westminster and participating in all votes on Brexit would best serve the interest of all citizens in both parts of Ireland. – Yours, etc,
( Former Fine Gael MEP
and former leader of the
Lisnagry, Co Limerick.