Gildernew insists ‘never say never’ comments were ‘taken out of context’

Michelle Gildernew, Sinn Fein

Michelle Gildernew, Sinn Fein

LOCAL MP Michelle Gildernew, who last week hinted at a change in Sinn Fein’s opposition to taking their seats in Westminster when she quipped ‘never say never’, has this week claimed that the Herald quoted her out of context. She said she was a “never say never” type of person.

The Sinn Fein MP said she believed the comments were taken “out of context” after responding to a question from this newspaper about the party’s policy of abstentionism, in other words not taking seats at Westminster.


When asked if there would be any time or under any circumstances where she would consider taking her seat, she replied: “Well, I never say never. But the time and the circumstances are definitely not right now and to be honest I don’t feel that the British have any need to involve themselves in Irish politics.”

In just over two weeks, Ms Gildernew will face a battle to retain the most tightly-contested seat in the UK.

Her party colleague, Sean Lynch said there was no question of Sinn Fein ever taking their seats in Westminster, saying, “not now, not ever”.

“This is not an issue. We are Irish republicans and we will not be taking their seats in a foreign parliament. Sometimes the papers take comments out of context.

“She clarified her position in the Enniskillen Hotel when she met with students,” he insisted. “We can achieve more power in the island of Ireland. We want to bring more power to the Executive and we want to bring more representation in the next Assembly.

“I have been in scores of republican houses and I can’t see a debate going on about this. No one asked about it or asked where it came from. But people can say a lot of things that can be construed.

“The position is not now, not ever and that’s where we are heading. We are not sitting with hundreds of MPs on green benches,” he added.


However, well-known union activist and former Sinn Fein councillor Donal O’Cofaigh, believes the party will eventually take their seats saying it reflects the normalisation of local politics.

He said: “It’s a natural consequence of the direction of Sinn Fein. The party will be aiming to influence in Westminster in the foreseeable future. It may be a case they may take their seats. I think it would aggravate some traditional voters.

“I think Sinn Fein, like most political parties, have the knack of managing the difference in opinions within parties where one representative will say one thing whereas another will say something contradictory.”

In a statement sent to the Fermanagh Herald, Ms Gildernew said: “Comments made last week were ultimately taken out of context – I said personally I was a ‘never say never’ type of person.

“I followed up this comment with saying that I don’t feel the British government have any need to involve themselves in Irish politics. The decisions impacting Irish people are to be made on the island of Ireland by Irish elected representatives.

“As Irish republicans we do not take our seats in the British parliament and we will not be taking our seats in Westminster as it would ultimately counteract our entire reason for being in existence and that position has been endorsed by the electorate at successive elections.”

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