Sinn Féin will not review absentionist policy despite Boris Johnson’s Brexit plans

Conor Murphy MLA, Sinn Fein leader at Stormont Michelle O'Neill, Elisha McCallion MP and Sinn Fein T

Conor Murphy MLA, Sinn Fein leader at Stormont Michelle O'Neill, Elisha McCallion MP and Sinn Fein TD Pearse Doherty in Belfast, Northern Ireland. Photograph: Liam McBurney/PA. - Credit: PA Wire/PA Images

Sinn Féin has insisted it will not review its absentionist policy, despite Boris Johnson attempts to force through Brexit.

The republican party again rejected calls to ditch its century-old boycott of the House of Commons to help pro-Remain parties in their efforts to prevent a no-deal Brexit.

Political rivals of Sinn Féin have repeatedly questioned the party's abstentionist stance through the Brexit process, arguing its seven MPs could play a pivotal role in such a finely balanced parliament.

Party assembly member Conor Murphy branded the suggestion "absurd" and a "nonsense".

He said: "Without getting into the argument about our mandate and the platform we were elected on, this day of all days when the British government decided to set aside parliamentary interests, decided to ride roughshod over the parliament and force their own position, then the argument that Sinn Féin should be sitting in there, as impotent as the rest of the MPs, I think is a nonsense.

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"If they (the government) have that regard for their own political institutions what regard have they got for Irish interests - and our clear view is they have none.

"Irish interests will not be defended at Westminster, they will be defended by the Irish government, by the European Union, by the Americans on Capitol Hill - those are the people who are defending Ireland's interests, it's not being found in Westminster."

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In response to one of a number of media questions on the Sinn Féin abstentionist policy, Murphy said: "The absurdity of that is we are here today to discuss a move by the British prime minister to shut down parliament and you are saying put seven more bums on a bench at Westminster and that will have an impact?

"The British prime minister has closed down his own parliament in order to pursue his no-deal Brexit agenda, I just think the question is absurd - today of all days that question is absurd."

Murphy also heavily criticised the DUP for backing the PM's move.

"By throwing their weight behind the British government today, who are clearly determined to drive through a no-deal Brexit, once again they are demonstrating their own contempt for the people who elected all of us in this part of the world," he said.

"Whatever happens in Ireland is of very little regard to them (the UK government) and the DUP will find to their cost at some stage that they have been puppets in relation to all of this."

In Northern Ireland, 56% of the electorate voted to Remain.

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