Election Diary: Sinn Fein will ‘never’ take Commons seats

Declan Kearney said Sinn Fein would never take up its Westminster seats
Declan Kearney said Sinn Fein would never take up its Westminster seats

Sinn Fein’s national chairman has ruled out the party ever taking their seats at Westminster.

The party’s position has appeared somewhat unclear during the campaign, with Michelle Gildernew saying “never say never” when asked about the issue.

But in the UTV debate on Tuesday night Martin McGuinness said that abstentionism from the mother of parliaments was a “principle” for republicans.

On Wednesday night, Sinn Fein chairman Declan Kearney was asked about the issue during a debate on the Q Radio Network.

Asked by presenter Jim Fitzpatrick if he would say “never” to Sinn Fein taking their seats at Westminster, Mr Kearney said: “Yes”.

But SDLP veteran Mark Durkan, who has featured prominently in the campaign, laid into Sinn Fein on the issue.

He said: “It’s been shown over the whole history of the peace process that the best predictor of a future Sinn Fein position is a current SDLP one that Sinn Fein attack — just about every other thing that the SDLP have done or stood for in the past, including the new beginning to policing, the whole set of devolution, the whole scheme that’s in the Agreement, Sinn Fein have moved on. “

The Foyle candidate added: “And they may well move on this [abstentionism] as well.”

Orange: If you care who governs you, vote

The Orange Order has urged people to use their votes next week – but has been careful not to tell its members who they should support.

An editorial in the Orange Standard, the institution’s newspaper, expressed concern for the future shape of the United Kingdom as the fracturing of the major political parties and the growth of nationalism creates uncertainty about the future.

It added: “One thing is certain, however, which is that those who do not cast their vote are highlighting their apathy to how they are governed, who governs them and what changes will come about as a result.

“The right to vote did not always belong to us.

“Everyone should ensure that with the right to a free ballot comes the responsibility to cast your vote.”

Paisley ‘not backing Long or Robinson’

One of the late Ian Paisley’s sons has said that he is “not coming out on any side” in the electoral battle between Naomi Long and Gavin Robinson for East Belfast.

The Rev Kyle Paisley, a Free Presbyterian minister in England, sent a series of intriguing tweets to Naomi Long, one of which said: “Like the caption from the shipyard. Is that crane big Ian?”

Mrs Long replied that their official names were Samson and Goliath, to which the Rev Paisley responded: “Samson took on more than one party at the same time and won.”

When asked by the News Letter if he was supporting Mrs Long, the Rev Paisley, who grew up in east Belfast, said that he did not want to speak in support of either of the candidates as he is not “on the ground” in the city.

CoI Gazette defends unionist pact

The Church of Ireland Gazette has defended the legitimacy of the unionist pact.

In an editorial, the publication (which is editorially independent of the church), acknowledged that the pact had “caused some controversy”.

But it added: “In a free world, political parties have every right to co-operate on strategy. A coalition government is itself a form of political pact.

“Of course, some have suggested that, in the context of Northern Ireland, it becomes an exercise in sectarianism, but that is to look at the matter in the most malign way.

“Politics in Northern Ireland does reflect different constitutional aspirations, but that need not be seen as sectarian. The term ‘sectarian’ implies ill intent, if not actual violence.”

It said that if there is a hung Parliament, before supporting Labour or the Tories Northern Ireland’s MPs should seek a change to the legal definition of a victim to exclude perpetrators of violence.