Claire Hanna (holding pen and paper) after her recent election win
By Anthony Neeson
The SDLP’s two new MPs have written letters in “respectful protest” over the requirement for MPs to pledge allegiance to Queen Elizabeth.
The newly elected South Belfast MP Claire Hanna, and Foyle MP Colum Eastwood, wrote to House of Commons Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle to raise their concerns about the pledge required by politicians before they can take their seats.
MPs are required by law to make an oath or affirmation of allegiance to the Crown and are not allowed to speak in debates, vote, or receive their salary, until they do so.
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While making her affirmation, Hanna chose to outline her reasons for doing so, stating: “I do solemnly, sincerely and truly declare and affirm that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth, her heirs and successors, according to law.
She continued: “My allegiance is to the people of South Belfast – in order to serve them I’ve made this affirmation.
“My political commitment is to the Good Friday Agreement, relationships in Northern Ireland, between north and south of Ireland and between these islands based on mutual respect and co-operation.”
In her letter to Sir Lindsay, the MP said: “I submit this letter to you to register a respectful protest against the requirement that I make a statement of allegiance to the Crown as a precondition for taking my seat.
“I chose an affirmation rather than an oath, but the words do not reflect my outlook.”
She added: “I do not believe it serves trust in Parliament for MPs to be obliged to rehearse pledges that are not true for them. I believe a better pledge would be one to parliamentary service on behalf of our constituents, with an allegiance pledge for those who wish to make one.”