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.

08 January 2020
Man Injured As Armed Gang Burgle House
A group of armed men, one of whom was carrying a sumarai sword, have left the occupants of a Co Antrim house shaken after an aggravated burglary. Police are working to establish a motive for the incident in Randalstown's Mill View at around 7.20pm on Tuesday night, 07 January.
20 December 2019
Appeal As House Burgled In West Belfast
Police are appealing for information after a number of items were stolen from a house in west Belfast. A property in the Glenhill Park area was entered sometime between 12.30pm and 2.30pm on Wednesday 18 December. A number of rooms were ransacked and a MacBook Pro, iPad and sum of cash were stolen.
09 December 2019
Shot Fired At House In Co Tyrone
A man has escaped injury after a shot was fired at a house in Coalisland, Co Tyrone. The incident took place in Pinebank Gardens shortly before 9pm on Sunday night, 08 December. The front window of the house was damaged, however a man who was inside at the time was uninjured.
18 February 2020
Dissidents Plan Car Bomb Attack On Sinn Fein
Dissident republicans are planning an attack on a member of Sinn Fein using an under car explosive device, the party's deputy leader has said. Michelle O'Neill said her party was informed on Monday night, 17 February, of the New IRA plot. She was informed the attack could take place "anywhere in the north" and against any of the party members.
11 February 2020
Sinn Fein Comes Under Dissident Threat
Sinn Fein deputy leader Michelle O'Neill has been warned of planned attacks against herself and party colleague Gerry Kelly by dissident republicans. Northern Ireland's deputy First Minister was informed by the PSNI of intelligence pointing to attacks targeting her and Gerry Kelly MLA, the party's policing spokesperson.