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  #51  
Old 10-21-2019, 11:09 AM
John Bredin is offline
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Originally Posted by Steophan View Post
That's part of it, but MPs do a great deal of stuff outside of Parliament. I don't know exactly how much Sinn Féin MPs actually do, but it would surprise me if they're not representing their constituents in local issues.
Sorry if I'm hijacking a bit, but doesn't an MP (or Congressman, state assemblyman, or the like) derive his or her power to represent constituents with the bureaucracy from his or her power to vote, which the Sinn Fein MPs won't ever exercise? Why should the Ministry of Silly Walks care what the MP says in a letter or phone call on behalf of a constituent if the MP can't ever vote down the Ministry's budget?
  #52  
Old 10-21-2019, 11:22 AM
Steophan is online now
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Originally Posted by John Bredin View Post
Sorry if I'm hijacking a bit, but doesn't an MP (or Congressman, state assemblyman, or the like) derive his or her power to represent constituents with the bureaucracy from his or her power to vote, which the Sinn Fein MPs won't ever exercise? Why should the Ministry of Silly Walks care what the MP says in a letter or phone call on behalf of a constituent if the MP can't ever vote down the Ministry's budget?
In practice, that's sure to be part of it, but most local issues won't be taken to a vote in Parliament. Not everything will come down to an exercise of power, sometimes knowledge will be enough, or publicity. If there's a local dispute, often the involvement of the MP and/or local media can lead to a resolution.

This sort of thing is a big part of the job of MPs, and is one reason it's rather irritating to see people complain that MPs aren't in Parliament all the time - they have other, more important things to do.

Also, as Baron Greenback said, the Sinn Féin MPs do have offices in Westminster, so can bring any concerns to the attention of other MPs there, which may or may not be dealt with. In the specific and unusual situation of Northern Ireland, Parliament will probably pay more attention to them than they would if my local MP didn't take her seat, as the corner of Nottinghamshire is unlikely to cause major international issues, or secede from the Union.

In short, they have somewhat more soft power than you might expect due to the unique situation. There's a hell of a lot of compromise (often unacknowledged on both sides) in how Northern Ireland is dealt with, because no-one wants a return to terrorism. Well, at least no-one in Parliament.


ETA I don't think it's a hijack, although it's not my thread, as the whole NI situation is a massice part of what's making Brexit so difficult.

Last edited by Steophan; 10-21-2019 at 11:23 AM.
  #53  
Old 10-21-2019, 08:41 PM
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American senators and representatives (especially representatives, since they're generally closer to the people) play a similar role in looking out for the interests of their constituents, and greasing the wheels of bureaucracy as needed. But I've never heard any American complain that their congresscritters don't spend enough time on Capitol Hill; rather the opposite: They complain that they're spending all of their time in Washington, and not paying attention to what's happening at home.

On the matter of the Sinn Féin MPs, I do wonder: If the question of Northern Irish reunion with the Republic were ever to come up directly in Parliament, what would they do? It'd be kind of absurd if such a question were to come up, and to fail because the people who feel most strongly about it refused to vote. But it'd also be absurd for them to swear fealty to the Queen specifically for the purpose of renouncing that fealty. My guess is that some sort of informal agreement would be reached to allow them to vote on that one measure without swearing fealty, but I don't know how much leeway exists for that.
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Old 10-21-2019, 08:51 PM
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If Northern Ireland ever were to leave the UK, it would almost certainly be as a result of a referendum, and the Commons votes would presumably be close to unanimous. The consequences of it happening or not happening based on a vote so split that the 7 Sinn Féin members could hold the balance don't bear thinking about.

There is a convention known as "pairing", where MPs that can't attend the Commons for whatever reason will arrange with an opposing MP that neither will vote. This is another convention that's come under pressure in recent times, as mentioned on the Wiki page. But for a major constitutional change such as a nation leaving the UK, I would expect that all members would attend and vote, health permitting.
  #55  
Old 10-23-2019, 04:34 AM
Brayne Ded is offline
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Originally Posted by KarlGauss View Post
The role of Northern Ireland, and of the DUP in particular, has been a major force in Brexit politics. Maybe the major force.

Why did the DUP support leaving the EU in the first place? What was its fundamental concern with the EU? I suspect immigration, religion and 'colour' may play a role but from the little I've read, support for Brexit and the DUP comes from large segments of both its major religions.

Thanks.
NI as a whole voted for Remain. The DUP is a bunch of right-wing nationalists / dinosaurs.

Some say that Ireland would reunite within a few years after a Brexit. I agree with the result, but not the time frame. It will take much longer.
  #56  
Old 10-23-2019, 04:35 AM
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Originally Posted by Steophan View Post
If Northern Ireland ever were to leave the UK, it would almost certainly be as a result of a referendum, and the Commons votes would presumably be close to unanimous. The consequences of it happening or not happening based on a vote so split that the 7 Sinn Féin members could hold the balance don't bear thinking about.

There is a convention known as "pairing", where MPs that can't attend the Commons for whatever reason will arrange with an opposing MP that neither will vote. This is another convention that's come under pressure in recent times, as mentioned on the Wiki page. But for a major constitutional change such as a nation leaving the UK, I would expect that all members would attend and vote, health permitting.
Any change in the status of NI can only be as the result of a referendum, as per the GFA.
  #57  
Old 10-23-2019, 06:01 AM
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A good article on the situation in Northern Ireland in the New York Review of Books:

How Brexit Put a United Ireland Back on the Map
  #58  
Old 10-23-2019, 02:03 PM
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Of course, there's other considerations to Brexit than just N. Ireland.
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