Nail in the coffin of MPs speaking rights in the Dail?

The hopes of many Northern Irish nationalist for political unification of the island rest with Sinn Fein. But, says Noel Whelan, they looked very isolated on the first day of the Dail. Unable to muster the support of one other TD at their loss of own representative’s speaking rights, their influence on this Dail session looks set to lessen considerable. Realistic prospects of gaining speaking rights for their MPs look even more remote than ever.

…the party tried to sweeten the pill for its followers by coating it in the promise of symbolic Irish unity.

It sought to assuage discontent among volunteers and supporters by leading them to believe that the party was on the verge of being in government on both sides of the Border, that someday soon the party’s Northern MPs would sit and speak in the Dáil chamber and even that Gerry Adams would be president of Ireland by the time the centenary of the 1916 Rising came around.

Now, however, reality has again brutally intruded on Sinn Féin’s new mythology.

Sinn Féin representation in the 30th Dáil is even smaller than what it was in the 29th Dáil, and the disintegration of the “technical group” of Independents and small parties means that opportunities for Sinn Féin TDs to speak in the Dáil chamber will be few and far between over the next five years.

The prospect of its Northern MPs doing so is now non-existent.