We have 250,000 reasons not to go to Westminster, says Sinn Fein

(Left-right) Sinn Fein's newly-elected MPs Barry McElduff, Chris Hazzard, Elisha McCallion, Paul Maskey, Pearse Doharty TD, Michelle Gildernew, Mickey Brady and Francie Molloy during a press conference in Westminster, central London on Tuesday June 13, 2017. Pic: John Stillwell/PA Wire
(Left-right) Sinn Fein's newly-elected MPs Barry McElduff, Chris Hazzard, Elisha McCallion, Paul Maskey, Pearse Doharty TD, Michelle Gildernew, Mickey Brady and Francie Molloy during a press conference in Westminster, central London on Tuesday June 13, 2017. Pic: John Stillwell/PA Wire

Sinn Fein have dismissed speculation they would take their seats in Westminster to help Labour block Theresa May’s Queen’s Speech.

The Irish republican party visited London to hold meetings with ministers and to set up their parliamentary office but the party maintained its traditional refusal to take its seats out of opposition to Westminster’s jurisdiction in Northern Ireland and the oath all MPs must make to the Queen.

Paul Maskey, Belfast West MP, told a media briefing in Westminster: “Almost 250,000 people voted for us, for the seven of us and others who were unsuccessful, they gave us that mandate not to take our seats.

“People knew that we were abstentionist MPs, they have elected us to represent them but not to take our seats.”

He said other nationalists had lost their seats, adding: “They (voters) have turned their back on Westminster because they know it doesn’t work for them.”

It comes as the party has accused the DUP of betraying the interests of Northern Ireland by agreeing to prop up a Conservative minority government.

Talks have been under way between DUP leader Arlene Foster and the Prime Minister over a possible alliance, as the Northern Ireland party’s 10 MPs could help to prop up a Tory Government.

Sinn Fein’s Michelle Gildernew (Fermanagh and South Tyrone) raised concern about an alliance, saying: “This new arrangement is very unsettling and people are concerned and wary of what it may mean, and what promises will be given or promises extracted from Theresa May.

“We’ve already heard some of the things that have been asked for, issues that have been put to bed a long time ago are now raising their head again.

“So there is a lot of anxiety and a lot of fear out of what is being discussed.”

She raised concern that such a deal could put the Northern Ireland peace process at risk as the Government would no longer be an “honest broker” in the Good Friday Agreement.

Sinn Fein has also claimed that a Tory-DUP alliance could damage powersharing talks in Northern Ireland, which has been without an executive since March and without a first and deputy first minister since January.