SF supporting abolition of Unionist friendly upper house



  • by Kevin Mullan

SINN Féin’s Martin McGuinness said on Monday (September 30) the party wants northern Unionists to elect one part of the Irish Oireachtas whilst arguing for the abolition this week of another part to which Unionists have previously been elected or appointed.

The republican leader joined Londonderry MP Mark Durkan in welcoming the Republic’s Constitutional Convention’s recommendation that Irish people abroad and in Northern Ireland should be allowed to vote for the Irish President.

Mr McGuinness - who ran for the Irish Presidency in 2011 - said: “The issue of voting rights in presidential elections for citizens living in the north and those living abroad is an important one for all democrats, but particularly for citizens in the north. “This was a significant plank in my campaign when contesting the last Presidential election.”

He added: “As I said during the Convention deliberations, Sinn Féin isn’t just looking for votes for republicans or nationalists in the north.

“Unionists also deserve the opportunity, if they wish to exercise it, to elect the President.”

But whilst Londonderry MP Mark Durkan wants the Seanad to be retained Sinn Féin wants its abolition.

This week Sinn Féin is campaigning for the abolition of that section of the Oireachtas to which unionists have been elected or appointed in the past - the Seanad.

Notable unionists members of the Irish upper house in the past include Enniskillen bomb victim Gordon Wilson and British peer Benjamin Guinness, the third Earl of Iveagh.

And in 2011, gay rights campaigner and former aide to UK Unionist leader Robert McCartney, Jeff Dudgeon got 258 votes in the Senate election when he contested the University of Dublin constituency.

David Norris, who defeated Mr Dudgeon in that same constituency, this summer described himself as a “southern Unionist.”

He received 5,623 votes including many from Northern Ireland.

On July 15, 2013, the former Irish Presidential candidate told the Seanad: “I come from a southern Unionist background and I belong to the Anglican Communion, which is the reformed Catholic Church.

“I am regarded as a Protestant and a southern Unionist and as someone viewed from the North as a Protestant.”

Sinn Féin are campaigning for the abolition of the Seanad in the referendum on Friday (October 4). The party has called it an “affront to democracy.”

In contrast SDLP MP Mark Durkan said: “In relation to further reforms, I would like to see the Seanad (Senate) retained on an elected, regional basis – which of course would include members from the North.”




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