IRELAND’S former ambassador to the United States has urged Sinn Féin to take their seats in the House of Commons for the first time in over a century.
Seán Donlon quoted Gerry Adams’ recent speech arguing that a “new approach” is needed in dealing with unionists now that the Democratic Unionist Party is a major partner in the British Government.
Quoting that speech, Mr Donlon said: “We need a new approach, one which unlocks unionist opposition to a new Ireland by reminding them of their historic place here and of the positive contribution they have made to society on this island.”
Speaking at the MacGill Summer School on Monday, Mr Donlon added that Mr Adams should “translate those very fine words into actions” and end his party’s “obscure philosophical objection” to sitting in parliament.
Members of Parliament are required to swear allegiance to the monarch before they can take their seats in the House of Commons.
Sinn Féin have refused to do so since the party was first founded by Arthur Griffith in 1905.
The republican party rubbished claims after the general election last month that they would be ending their 102-year abstentionist policy after winning seven seats to the DUP’s 10.
Ex-Irish diplomat Sean Donlon says SF's refusal to take its 7 House of Commons seats is "impenetrably obscurantist and unintelligible". pic.twitter.com/kepGvgrsGJ
— Gerard Moriarty (@GerryMoriartyIT) July 17, 2017
Mr Donlon, a former Ambassador to the United States and ex-secretary general of the Department of Foreign Affairs, said Sinn Féin’s refusal to take its seven seats in the Commons was based on an “impenetrably obscurantist and unintelligible” argument.
He added that Sinn Féin “can afford to be both brave and generous” after their success in winning seven seats in the election.
“This is their moment and I hope they use it,” he said.
Mr Donlon also called on Sinn Féin not to “weaponise” the Irish language in Northern Ireland.
He said that having been brought up in an Irish-speaking household he shares their commitment to Irish but said that “nothing is more important than healing divisions” in the North.
“That is something that cannot happen without Sinn Féin taking a huge jump and putting flesh on Gerry Adams’s fine words,” he said.
“Sinn Féin is needed at Westminster and is needed in a devolved government in Northern Ireland. The time is now.”