19/12/2001

House of Commons votes to allow Sinn Féin offices

The House of Commons has voted to allow the four Sinn Fein members office space and access to allowances enjoyed by other MPs.

Conservative leader Iain Duncan Smith condemned the decision saying that it would create a two-tier system of MPs.

After an emotionally charged lengthy debate, MPs backed the government plans for the controversial move by a margin of 322 votes to 189.

The rule change was vehemently opposed by the Tories who in protest threatened to end cross-party support for the government’s Northern Ireland policy.

Some Labour MPs, Ulster Unionists and Democratic Unionists were also numbered among the opponents to the motion.

DUP MP for Strangford, Iris Robinson said: “The vote in the House of Commons to permit Sinn Fein entrance to the House is yet another political pay-off to the Republican movement.

But Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams, speaking during a visit to Cuba, welcomed the vote.

As staunch Irish republicans Sinn Féin MPs have consistently refused to swear the oath of allegiance to the Queen, which has left them barred from the parliamentary privileges afforded to other MPs.

The change means the four Sinn Fein MPs - Gerry Adams, Martin McGuinness, Pat Doherty and Michelle Gildernew - can enter the Commons precincts when Parliament returns in the New Year.

As well as using support services, the MPs can each claim £107,000 a year in allowances to cover staff salaries and expenses. (AMcE)

Related Northern Ireland News Stories
Click here for the latest headlines.

04 September 2019
Masked Men Drive Van Into L'Derry House
A vehicle has been driven several times into a house in L'Derry before being set on fire in what police have said was a "completely reckless attack". Extensive damage was caused to the house in the Glendale Road area of the city following the incident on Tuesday evening, 03 September.
13 August 2019
Armagh House Attacked In Racist Hate Crime
The home of a Syrian family living in Armagh has been attacked for the second time in as many days in what police are treating as a racially motivated hate crime. Windows were smashed at the property in Alexander Avenue at around 1.40am on Monday morning, 12 August. Just over a day earlier, graffiti was spray painted over the house.
01 July 2019
Shots Fired At Co Tyrone House
Police are appealing for information after shots were fired at a house in County Tyrone early this morning, Monday 01 July. A house in Loughview Gardens, Coalisland, was targeted just after 4am. Six people in the house at the time were uninjured.
13 August 2019
NIAS Operating With Reduced Crews
The Northern Ireland Ambulance Service operated with major staff shortages for a fourth consecutive night on Monday 12 August. Ambulance crews were revealed to have been down 20 crews over the weekend, roughly a quarter of its normal workforce, while operations continued last night with around 12 crews less than normal.
13 November 2017
NI Health Budget To Receive Increase Of 5.4%
The health budget in Northern Ireland is to receive an increase of 5.4% compared to the previous financial year, according to the budget for 2017/18. NI's budget for 2017/18 is to be passed into law at Westminster later this week.