[Sinn Fein]

3 October 1997

SF to pursue `access to Westminster facilities'
case to higher courts

Sinn Fein Director of Elections Dodie McGuinness, speaking after the court decision in favour of the Speaker of the British House of Commons said:

``We will be pursuing this case to the higher courts, all the way to Europe if necessary. We are presently taking legal advice as to whether or not this decision satisfies the exhaustion of domestic remedies rule which would allow us to go directly to Europe.

``The decision to deny facilities to the Sinn Fein MP's was clearly arbitrary, anti-democratic and discriminatory.

``It was a unilateral decision taken personally by the Speaker of the British parliament without reference or regard for the accepted rules of the House of Commons.

``It is not contained in any legislation and comes in the direct aftermath of the impressive successes of Sinn Fein. Facilities under the accepted rules of Parliament have been historically available to all other MP's regardless of whether or not they took their seats.

``It is therefore blatantly discriminatory, decided solely on the basis of restricting Sinn Fein's ability to represent those voters who chose us as their public representatives. The electorate were made aware of our abstentionist policy prior to casting their votes and voted for us on that basis.

``It would therefore by contrary to the mandate which we received to act in any other manner.

``If the speaker was confident of the reasonableness of her case then she should have presented it in open court rather than hiding behind parliamentary privilege.''

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