Why the SDLP should take Lords seats

Jim Dougal argues that for all the trappings of inherited previlge, thst there is nothing of substance preventing senior members of the SDLP from accepting the opportunity and experience that the Upper House of Westminster has to offer.

Following the Belfast Good Friday Agreement of 1998, I’m not sure the old arguments against participation hold water, even if they ever did. It’s unelected, of course, it’s a British body, and the SDLP are nationalist and their eventual aim is a united Ireland. But it seems to me that the united Ireland bit will be a long time in coming and the little matter of settling Northern Ireland has to be sorted out.

There are, much at the SDLP’s urging, new relationships being established in these islands and the House of Lords provides an opportunity, a platform and a sphere of influence, which the party is unwise to ignore.

And after all, members of the SDLP have in the past accepted appointment to the Irish Senate. Both Brid Rogers and Seamus Mallon were appointees. They were not elected but they contributed to the debates.

So, if we are in a new situation in these islands, where the respect for difference and the traditions of others is paramount, why leave out the House of Lords?

Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty