David Liddington, Conservative spokesman on Northern Ireland, said the oath of loyalty to the Queen should be re-examined, if it would mean Sinn Fein MPs taking their seats in the House of Commons.
Mr Lidington said a general commitment to uphold the law and democratic politics could be considered as an alternative to the compulsory oath.
However, Sinn Fein’s Martin McGuinness said he did not envisage any circumstances ever in the future in which any Sinn Fein MP would take their seat. Mr McGuinness said, while it was quite legitimate for Sinn Fein elected representatives to go to Westminster to engage with other parties, they did not recognise the right of the British Parliament to rule over any part of Ireland. (BBC News)
The main beneficiaries of a change would probably be British republicans and the SDLP who would no longer have to issue press releases like this one:
SDLP MPs Alasdair McDonnell and Mark Durkan today took their seats in the House of Commons.
Dr McDonnell stated:
“We are determined to represent our constituents. That is what we were elected to do. And that is what today we are doing.
“I want to be clear. No SDLP MP is taking an oath. What we are taking is an affirmation. It is, as de Valera said, an empty formula. It would be wrong for us to put an empty formula ahead of the needs of the people who elect us – especially at a time when our institutions are suspended and Westminster is the only place where we can hold the Direct Rulers to account." (SDLP)
There are plenty of British MPs who treat the oath in a similar way, which make a mockery of the whole exercise in its present form.