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Thursday, 17 May, 2001, 11:39 GMT
Office space for republican MPs?

Sinn Fein at Stormont but missing from Westminster
The Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams has said his party intends making full use of facilities at Westminister after the general election.

Sinn Fein's two MPs in the last parliament, Mr Adams and Martin McGuinness, were denied the use of office facilities at the commons by ex-speaker Betty Boothroyd.

Sinn Fein has a policy of not taking its seats at Westminster because this would mean recognising the British parliament.

At present MPs have to swear an oath of allegiance to the Queen and this would breach republican principles.

The Queen of England
To enter parliament MPs must sign an oath to the crown
Mr Adams told a news conference in Belfast on Thursday he has already spoken to Tony Blair about the issue of using the Westminster facilities but refused to disclose if a deal had been reached.

Predicting change to the current position he said: "Our people are there very regularly. The problem at the moment is that we have to pay for them."

The ruling in place at the moment allows Sinn Fein to use stationery and postage but they do not have their own parliamentary office at Westminster.

They cannot take their salary or pension either because they do not attend sittings of the commons.

Some unionist and conservative MPs have campaigned against the rules being changed to allow Sinn Fein access to the commons.

They believe the party must abide by the rules of parliament if it wants to be treated like everyone else.

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13 Jan 00 |  UK Politics
Sinn Fein set to get Commons access
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