[Sinn Fein]

12 August 1997

McGuinness to challenge oath and speakers decision

Solicitors acting for Martin Mc Guinness, Mid Ulster MP, have today lodged papers in Belfast High Court seeking a judicial review challenging the legality and constitutional basis which requires Mr Mc Guinness to take an Oath of allegiance to the English Queen, and the legality of the speakers decision, after the election to impose restrictions on Mr Mc Guinness's access to Parliament Buildings and to the services and facilities available to him.

Commenting on the challenge Mr Mc Guinness said:

``At its heart this challenge is about the demand for Equality. There is an absence of equality for Irish nationalists under British Law and within the British Parliamentary system and constitution.

``I intend challenging the legality of the Oath and demanding its abolition. It clearly discriminates against Irish nationalists and Republicans who dispute British jurisdiction over this part of Ireland. It also denies us our right to freedom of expression.

``The decision, after the election, of the Speaker to impose restrictions on my use of facilities and services, up to then available to all members, including those who refused to take the Oath, was in my view unlawful, the process is improper in its procedure and irrational. The Speakers decision should be quashed.''

Concluding Mr Mc Guinness said:

``Irish republican MP's are not second class. Those we represent are not second class. The British government and the British Parliamentary establishment must accept the fundamental principle of equality. Justice and a real democracy can on only be built on an inclusive system which accepts and embraces equality. This is a lesson which the British have not learned.

``This will be a difficult challenge but it is a rights battle which must be fought if the issue of equality for Irish nationalists is to be successful.''

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