Belfast Telegraph

'Crazy' Sinn Fein MP would sign Revoke Article 50 petition but won't take seat - Alliance MLA Farry

Sinn Fein MP Chris Hazzard and Alliance MLA Stephen Farry.
Sinn Fein MP Chris Hazzard and Alliance MLA Stephen Farry.
Gareth Cross

By Gareth Cross

An Alliance Party MLA described as "a little crazy" a Sinn Fein MP signing a petition to Parliament while not taking his seat in the House of Commons.

Stephen Farry made the comment during a Twitter war of words with South Down MP Chris Hazzard over Sinn Fein's support for a people's vote on Brexit.

Calls for a second Brexit referendum have intensified in recent weeks with MPs struggling to find a way forward for the Brexit process.

An online petition calling for Parliament to revoke Article 50 and cancel Brexit attracted over 6million signatures, including thousands from Northern Ireland.

On Friday Mr Hazzard said a 6% growth for the UKIP vote, alongside a 20% decline in the combined Labour and Conservative vote in Thursday's Newport West by-election "should give anybody demanding a second Brexit referendum pause for thought".

Responding Alliance deputy leader Mr Farry said Sinn Fein "only want to pursue a united Ireland".

"Sinn Fein say Brexit is bad for Ireland yet dismiss the cleanest route to fix it via people's vote. United Ireland may come one day. Maybe even soon. But not be in Ireland's interest for GB to be outside EU for many economic and other reasons. So people's vote is best," he wrote.

Mr Hazzard accused the Alliance representative of being "disingenuous" with his comments, while Mr Farry said Sinn Fein's rhetoric on a people's vote had gone "into reverse over the past few months".

He pointed out that over 9,000 people in Mr Hazzard's South Down constituency had signed the petition calling for a second Brexit referendum.

Mr Hazzard said that he himself had signed the petition and pointed out that Northern Ireland had already voted remain.

Mr Farry seemed mystified that a Sinn Fein MP would sign a petition to Parliament when they refuse to take their seats.

"I understand the Sinn Fein position on abstention. Don't agree with it but not wasting time on arguing the general point," he added.

"That said, it is a little crazy that as an elected MP you are resorting [to] signing a petition to the very Parliament that you could sit in but won't".

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