Leo Varadkar: SF MPs should take Westminster seats or resign

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said Sinn Fein should take up its Westminster seats before the Brexit vote
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said Sinn Fein should take up its Westminster seats before the Brexit vote

The taoiseach has suggested that Sinn Fein’s seven MPs should consider resigning their Westminster seats to give voters in Northern Ireland an opportunity to elect MPs who would take up their seats.

Leo Varadkar also said the party should take their seats ahead of the crucial Brexit vote, despite its abstention policy.

“Sinn Fein is an unusual party in that it isn’t taking up its seats in Westminster for one reason and not taking its seats in Stormont for another,” he added.

“Generally, people who get involved in politics do so because they want to make a difference and they want to use the democratic process to get good outcomes for their citizens.

“If they are not willing to take up their seats because they feel they can’t because they got elected on the basis of abstention, they do have the option now of resigning their seats and allowing people in those constituencies to decide whether or not they want to have a say when this vote comes to Westminster.”

Responding to Mr Varadkar’s comments, Sinn Fein president Mary Lou McDonald said her party had “no intention of standing aside and abandoning our mandate”.

She added: “The reality is that the people of ‘those constituencies’ have already spoken and they chose abstentionist Sinn Fein MPs.

“The taoiseach’s problem is that he doesn’t like the democratic choice of the people of ‘those constituencies’ and now makes the ludicrous proposition that there should be another election without Sinn Fein’s participation, taking the democratic choice away from the people.

“Sinn Fein representatives have been very active in advancing the rights and interests of people particularly with regard to Brexit.”