NI Conundrum

I have never quite understood the politics of the north of Ireland.

I am an unashamed Protestant in my religious beliefs. I can understand the "Home Rule is Rome Rule" worries of Unionists. There is no way that I could live in the Irish Republic where all democratic decisions appear to be subject to the Pope's veto.

On the other hand I am also a (Welsh) nationalist and I have 100% sympathy with Irish nationalists who campaign for Irish Independence in the same way that I campaign for Welsh Independence.

As a protestant nationalist I don't know who the good guys are in NI politics, so I tend to ignore the thorny subject.

However there is one issue that has been raised on the Pint of Unionist Lite blog that has left me gobsmacked.

I had always respected the integrity of Sinn Fein MP's for refusing to take their seats in the British parliament. It is not a position that I agree with, but one which I can respect.

But I am told in the comments section of the Pint that despite the fact that SF MP's don't attend Westminster, they still claim the London home allowance!

You can call me stupid, but I don't understand the principal of refusing to sit in a British Parliament, whilst taking money for sleeping in a British parliamentary expenses bed!

To add to the fun, in her review of the way that parliamentary expenses are paid, Harriet Harman is considering having different rules for Northern Irish MP who don't attend the House of Commons!

Whilst the MPs for Land's End and John o'Groats will have to justify expenses for living in London, and will lose out if their far flung constituency duties mean that their actual attendances in London are limited, SF MP's will get a non attendance allowance.

Despite the sympathy I have with the Irish national cause I have to say that this is wrong, very wrong!


  1. Dau bwynt gyfaill:

    1. Does gan y Pab ddim feto ar unrhyw ran o'r broses ddemocrataidd yn yr Iwerddon. Dim un o gwbl - sero, silch. Yr unig wahaniaeth gwirioneddol o ran 'hawliau dynol' rhwng byw yn y Weriniaeth a byw yma ydi nad ydi erthyliad a phriodasau hoyw ar gael yno, tra eu bod ar gael yma.

    2. Mae'n wir bod aelodau SF yn hawlio pres am gartrefi yn Llundain (mae'r cartrefi yn bodoli) - ond 'dydi'r bobl yma ddim yn cymryd y rhan fwyaf o'u cyflog - maent yn ei roi i'w plaid. Mae ail weinidog Gogledd Iwerddon yn ennill yr un faint a'i yrrwr - £300 yr wythnos.

  2. I think the expenses claims were part of the the package deal negotiated to get Sinn Fein to sign up to the Good Friday agreement in 1998.

  3. As a protestant nationalist I don't know who the good guys are in NI politics, so I tend to ignore the thorny subjectProbably for the best;)

    As I mentioned in my own post, the logic from the SF and their electorate makes perfect sense, ie it's just another way of hitting the UK state; we should be grateful I suppose that this one doesn't involve no warning bombs in pubs or shopping centres, but still it's something which really needs to be sorted out. However...I think there is a more cynical interpretation of Harman's proposed exemption and this one (you'll probably be delighted to find out) regards the nominal Unionists of the DUP. If you remember back to the 42 day debacle last year, the DUP voted en-bloc to save Brown's skin, at the time it was believed some kind of quid pro quo deal was done for these vital 9 votes (Brown's majority was exactly...9) A bit of extra cash flew over to Ulster but aprt from that nothing too major that could be considered as a post-vote bribe. But now....couple of weeks ago our esteemed First Minister Peter Robinson was ripped apart in the tabloids for the anmount of expenses he and Mrs First Minister were er...screwing out of the UK state. The DUP have of course protested most strongly,strongly you hear?!, about the fact that SF will be exempted from the UK rules, but the thing they're keeping stum about is that they too would be exempt from having to give up all that lovely lolly. Which will be very handy and I guess (pure speculation of course) that Mr Brown will be expecting the DUPes support in case of a hung parliament aftre the next election. And which, I guess, the DUPes will be happy to provide as they have developed an unhealthy antipaty for the Tories since the latter hopped into bed with the DUPes' main rivals the UUP. Northern Irish Politics, eh, machiavellian aint't the word?!

    A Change of Personel,

    There was nothing specific in the Belfast Agreement about Westminster expenses. However as the whole premise behind the agreement was "don't upset the hard-men with guns whatever you do", we can safely assume it was one of the strong implications.

  4. My views on Irish independence are about the same as yours and I agree with you - this is just plain wrong.

  5. i totally agree with the point you have made. It is very much a hypocritical stance that they have taken on this issue, but what is the alternative? The Conservatives have threatened, as part of their proposals upon election, to give the seat to the next highest candidate but where will that leave us? I think this issue has a while to run yet before it is resolved!

  6. The MPs may not attend Westminster but they are given offices there. Gerry Adams has a top floor office in St Stevens Tower, overlooking Westminister Abbey. Nice view if you can get it.