Regarding the article entitled ‘Eastwood challenges Sinn Fein to take Westminster seats’ in the Derry Journal on 7-10-14.
Mr Eastwood has the opinion that Sinn Fein could ‘oppose welfare reforms (sic)’ by taking seats in that place. He further says that the SDLP were the only Northern Ireland parliamentarians to oppose Tory cuts “while Sinn Fein’s five MPs stayed at home.”
So let’s cut to the chase. The historic December, 1918 election in Ireland overwhelmingly voted for a Republic. The British refused to recognise this democratic result. The result is well known. It is possible that Republicans scorned the behaviour of a foreign government and said ‘we will not serve’.
The second point is purely pragmatic. Out of a membership of 600 plus in Westminster, I would imagine that maybe 15-20 of these members have any interest or concern for the condition of Ireland. Just look at the numbers there when Irish matters are discussed.
Lastly, the Republican movement I believe is intent on energising the people of Ireland in this opposition to austerity and cuts applied by feckless politicians in the South and by a British administration that is fundamentally opposed to the Welfare State-in the latter case targetting those in a job, those who can’t get a job and those unable to work.
The SDLP opposes the welfare cuts, all well and good, but to imagine that taking a seat in Westminster will see change from that quarter is pie in the sky.