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SF won't sit in House of Commons, even to fight Brexit, says MEP Boylan

By Niall O'Connor

Published 07/11/2016

A Sinn Fein MEP has insisted the party has "no intention" of changing its policy of abstaining from Westminster - despite Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness signalling a possible review.

The party's long-held policy of not taking its seats in the House of Commons has come under enormous scrutiny.

A ruling by the High Court in London last week means Parliament must ratify the decision to leave the EU.

Questioned about the ruling on Friday, Mr McGuinness refused to rule out a change of policy, saying "who knows where all of this could end up?"

But Mr McGuinness's colleague, Dublin MEP Lynn Boylan, has now completely ruled out such a scenario.

"Sinn Fein's abstentionist policy regarding Westminster is based on our republican politics," Ms Boylan said.

"We put that proposition to the people in the North during elections and people vote for us with that position included in our policy manifesto.

"Sinn Fein MPs will not be taking seats in Westminster as they stood on that clear abstentionist platform and they are therefore mandated by our voters not to attend. We have no intention of reviewing that position."

Fine Gael MEP Brian Hayes said Sinn Fein "cannot have its cake and eat it."

"How can Irish voters, especially those who voted to remain, have their voice heard and defended when Sinn Fein choose not to show up?" he asked.

"Running away at this time when our interest, both North and South, is so connected to what happens in the UK represents a complete betrayal to Irish voters.

"Sinn Fein would be better advised to get over themselves and realise that their voice at Westminster, especially when working with others such as the SNP, could actually help Ireland deal with Brexit," he added.

Mr McGuinness's comments came just a day after party leader Gerry Adams told RTE that Sinn Fein would not take seats to exploit the opportunity to vote against leaving the EU.

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