(Despite faithfully typing in the email address of Heather Stewart at the Guardian - see yesterday’s blog - my email has bounced back, it seems the address cannot be found. I will try again.)
Now then. Given my condemnation of the numpties that comprise the DUP, that group of pork-belly politicians who seem to lack all shame, I should perhaps balance my view of them with some thoughts on Sinn Féin. I understand their principle of not being willing to take an oath of allegiance to the Queen, but one wonders in the context of Brexit if standing by this principle will harm the chances of their achieving what they actually want. There are seven Sinn Féin MPs and their presence in the Commons could radically alter the parliamentary arithmetic, seriously reducing the value to Theresa May of the DUP’s 10 members.
There are many republicans of the British variety who have objections to the oath of allegiance, myself included, but for me the wording allowed sufficient wriggle room to say it. The affirmation version (removing references to God) says “I (name of Member) do solemnly, sincerely, and truly declare and affirm, that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth, her heirs and successors, according to law.” It’s the last few words which allowed me to utter it - ‘and successors, according to law.’ Logically, successors could include an elected head of state, and combined with the words ‘according to law’ this could point, as far as people in Northern Ireland are concerned, even to a successor who happens to be a Taoiseach. The oath doesn’t specify which country these successors might be head of state of, after all. Yes, it is assumed it refers only to the British state. But it doesn’t say that.
As things stand the DUP are making ground, under the cover of Brexit, in their ambition to demolish the Good Friday agreement and all Sinn Féin seem bothered about are a few archaic words. They would serve their cause better if they took the bloody oath and got on with the job they are being paid for. They might also earn some credit by representing the majority of voters in Northern Ireland who voted remain.