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Last Updated: Wednesday, 18 February, 2004, 11:51 GMT
Court rejects Adams case
Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams
Gerry Adams does not sit in the House of Commons
An independent unionist councillor has lost a High Court action over Gerry Adams' refusal to take his seat at Westminster.

The constituency of the Sinn Fein president takes in part of the staunchly loyalist Shankill Road.

Shankill councillor Frank McCoubrey applied for a declaration that his human rights had been breached by Mr Adam's decision to stay away from parliament.

Mr Adams, and the party's other three MPs, refuse to take an oath of allegiance to the Queen required to sit in the Commons

On Wednesday, Mr Justice Girvan refused leave to apply for a judicial review of Mr Adams' decision but pointed to shortcomings in the law.

The judge said some might seek to challenge the requirement to take an oath.

He said others might seek to challenge the law so that an MP who declined to take his seat could be obliged to vacate it, if he did not take the oath within a prescribed period.

However, the judge said the proceedings brought by Mr McCoubrey were not an appropriate legal framework to deal with what he described as "these contentious political issues".

'Abusing human rights'

Outside the court, Mr McCoubrey said he was not surprised by the decision.

He said the case may now be taken to the European Court of Human Rights.

"I believe what happened today is a political decision," he said.

"The Speaker of the House of Commons refused to act and that is why I had to seek a judicial review. We have not been granted one but I am not letting it rest there.

House of Commons
MPs take an oath of allegiance to the Queen

"My ultimate goal was to get this case to Europe to prove to the world that the West Belfast MP is abusing the human rights of thousands of his constituents."

Sinn Fein councillor Paul Maskey said it was evident from the outset that the case that it had "no basis in law or fact".

He said the outcome of the legal bid was "inevitable given the shallow nature of the case".

"Gerry Adams will continue to represent all of the people of West Belfast," he added.

"The constituency service which his office provides in second to none, a fact which can be confirmed by the people in unionist areas of West Belfast who have had occasion to use it over the years."

Sinn Fein moves into Westminster
21 Jan 02  |  Politics
'Commons access for Sinn Fein'
16 Jan 00  |  Northern Ireland

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