New choice facing northern nationalism

Irish Justice Minister Michael McDowell has rejected calls by Sinn Fein’s newly elected MPs to be allowed to speak in the Dail.

"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 Fein MPs had plenty of opportunities to air their views at public debates in the Republic.

"I went north and spoke at an SDLP event but it doesn`t allow me to walk into the Assembly in Northern Ireland or into Westminster and start speaking there," he explained. (PA)

This exchange happened as MPs from the rival SDLP were preparing to take their seats at Westminster. Interestingly, Tony Benn, a close ally of Sinn Fein, today called for them to do the same.

If the IRA is removed from this equation, these kind of issues may well become the main difference between Sinn Fein and the SDLP. The former competes in elections across Ireland and abstains from Westminster. The latter only organises in Northern Ireland and takes it seats at Westminster.

Malachi O’Doherty believes the SDLP will be better-placed in such a contest. I’m not so sure.

With Mark Durkan and Alisdair McDonnell, the SDLP has a new generation at Westminster. I spoke to someone from Derry recently who knows both Durkan and his predecessor, the legendary John Hume personally, and rates Durkan the more highly of the two.

However, with only three MPs the party will have an uphill task making an impact in the Commons.






One response to “New choice facing northern nationalism”

  1. Sharon. avatar

    McDowell should indeed go to Westminster and give a speech ; it is , after all , where his political heart lies . Besides , he gets on so well in the Dublin (British-imposed) ‘parliament’ that its ‘parent’ would no doubt welcome him with open arms , too . I hear the Tories need a new leader ….

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