Over the last decade or so, SF has tried its best to become more attractive to voters, dropping rhetoric of the past, U-turns in previous policies, protesting against the British queen's visit to Dublin, but welcoming her in the North, etc. It is Ireland's only all-Ireland party, (but I'm sure Cruimh will be along to point out the holes in that argument) however, would SF voters north and south still vote for a party whose candidates would take their seats in Westminster? If not, why?
With the recent election of SF's Francis Molly in Mid-Ulster, I was wondering why SF continues its policy of abstentionism in the British parliament. In the past there have been several reasons given for the ongoing policy, it seems this policy is one of the last remaining parts of SF's traditional republican ethos. Some say it is the oath of allegiance to the British queen. However Adams in an interview called the issue surrounding the oath as 'a bit of a distraction'. It doesn't however stop SF using this fact against its rivals in the SDLP.
When taking their seats the MPs representing the SDLP declare the following:
'I swear by Almighty God [or, I do solemnly and sincerely affirm] that I shall be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth, her heirs and successors according to law [So help me God]'
Back in 2006, David Lidington, the Conservative Northern Ireland spokesperson suggested the five absent Sinn Fein MP could take an "alternative" oath with references to the monarch removed, however when asked if he could see himself sitting in the Commons following a change to the oath, Mr Adams said: 'No, because the issue for us is the claim of that parliament to jurisdiction in Ireland'. So it isn't the oath?
SF today, has moved far, far from the position they once held, whether it be acceptance of consent or fully signing up to the northern state's police force, the PSNI. Indeed, Sinn Féin's sits in a Stormont administration where all laws passed require Royal Assent before being enacted. In the last half a century the Workers' Party was formed due to differences around the policy, as was Republican SF (Or Provisional SF depending on what way your look at it).
So is it a policy, a tactic, a principle or an age old tradition? I.e. Founder of SF, Arthur Griffith, formulated a SF policy of abstentionism in 1905–07 where he called for Irish MPs to abstain from Westminster, it that the reasoning behind it today? If it is because of Britain's claim over the north, then surely abstentionism should extend to northern British institutions that implement British policy.
Why do you think SF continues this policy considering how far it has moved constitutionally on many other issues? Is it an important issue for you, or would you like to see SF take its seats in Westminster and argue for independence from within, similar to what it claims it is doing in Stormont.
It's not a matter of a 'yes' or 'no' answer, more of your reasoning behind the answer? Particularly interested to hear from Shinners south of the border.