Sinn Fein MPs should be removed and barred from Westminster for refusing to take seats
Letter of the day: abstentionism row
Sinn Fein should be completely barred from running in Westminster elections if they have no intention of taking up their seats.
They are standing for election again and again as a protest against a parliament which they hate. They are not giving a voice in that parliament to the people who voted for them.
The situation is absurd and must not be allowed to go on. They are lobbying the electorate for votes that they will never use, when other candidates who will attend and give a voice could avail of such votes.
Sinn Fein cannot say with any certainty that everyone who voted for them is okay with the idea of a so-called non-attendance protest vote. Many of those who voted for them may have voted on day-to-day, bread-and-butter issues, not the old politics of bringing down the British by wearing them down and throwing a spanner in the works.
Many people have serious issues in their lives and those of their children, and they want representation, not token Members of Parliament whose intention is to show contempt.
Emergency laws should be brought in that automatically hold by-elections for MPs who are permanently absent from the Commons and, specifically, where it is understood that elected members will not take their seats.
Sinn Fein should be required to sign a notice of intention, either to take up a seat in an election that they are running in or not.
Their seats should then be vacated and they should be automatically precluded from running in subsequent by-elections and general elections.
In the meantime, all privileges should be revoked from their recent non-attending election to Westminster. Sinn Fein should enjoy no benefits whatsoever from their election for the simple reason that they will not participate to the slightest degree in an institution to which they were elected.