Friday, 30 July 2021

The Sands of Time

Strikingly little is being made of this fortieth anniversary summer of the Hunger Strike. IRA men of the same generation now comprise an Army Council that exercises de facto sovereignty in and over the Six Counties. If Sinn Féin had put up enough candidates, then it would have won the last Dáil elections outright. It will remember that the next time. All in all, the official reticence about 1981 is understandable.

The election of Bobby Sands led to a change in the law so that you could no longer stand for the House of Commons while you were serving a prison sentence in the United Kingdom or in the Republic of Ireland. But as long as you are otherwise eligible, then you can stand for Parliament from anywhere in the world, including from prison in any country other than those two. Provided that you really did live there, then you could give ADX Florence as your address on the ballot paper at North West Durham.

The rules for local elections are much tighter, but merely having been to prison in the past, even in the recent past, is no bar to becoming an MP. Even being in prison almost anywhere on earth is no such bar. At least until very recently indeed, men with long IRA records were wielding their Members' Passes around the Palace of Westminster every day that the House of Commons sat, drawing their salaries, claiming their expenses, using the facilities, having the use of an exceptionally large and well-appointed office, and doing everything that did not necessitate entering the chamber.

Jeremy Corbyn never did "invite" Gerry Adams to Parliament. As a sitting MP, eventually elected six times, Adams simply walked in, as he did routinely. The law has not changed. There is absolutely nothing to stop me from contesting a General Election in 2024. I fully intend to do so. I am already doing so.

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