It just gets worse, first back door allowances and now this!!! http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2006/02/09/noath09.xml&sSheet=/news/2006/02/09/ixhome.html Change the Oath of Allegiance to help Sinn Fein, says Tory By Tom Peterkin, Ireland Correspondent and George Jones (Filed: 09/02/2006) The Oath of Allegiance to the Queen sworn by MPs should be reviewed to encourage Sinn Fein to take up its five seats in the House of Commons, David Lidington, the Conservative Northern Ireland spokesman, said yesterday. He suggested the five absent Sinn Fein MPs, including Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness, who represent the political wing of the Provisional IRA, could take an "alternative" oath with references to the monarch removed. His proposal caused outrage among Unionists, who were already infuriated by the restoration of Sinn Fein's parliamentary allowances. The Ulster Unionist peer Lord Kilclooney of Armagh said he was "shocked" that a Conservative MP and shadow cabinet spokesman could make such a suggestion. Last night MPs voted to hand over allowances worth Â£800,000 a year plus a new annual payment of up to Â£86,000 even though Sinn Fein's five members still refuse to take the oath, which means they cannot receive their MPs' salaries or speak in parliament. The votes came at the end of a bitter five-hour debate in which ministers came under fire from all sides but insisted that the measures were necessary to encourage further progress in the peace process after IRA decommissioning. MPs last year suspended Sinn Fein's allowances after the Â£26.5 million Northern Bank robbery and the murder in Belfast of Robert McCartney - both of which were blamed on IRA members. But last July the IRA declared an end to its armed campaign and in September carried out a final act of weapons decommissioning. Geoff Hoon, Leader of the House, struggled to defend the plan against protests from Tory, Unionist and some Labour MPs. The allowances were approved by majorities of 100 and 151. Theresa May, his Tory opposite number, asked: "Why should a party that doesn't attend this House, doesn't vote, doesn't debate in this chamber, does not engage or undertake parliamentary duties or business, receive additional money to support its parliamentary activities?" All MPs and peers are required to "swear by Almighty God to be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth" or make a solemn affirmation of loyalty to the Crown. Sinn Fein claims its Irish republican ideals prevent MPs from swearing allegiance to a "foreign" Queen and sitting in a British parliament. Mr Lidington said Sinn Fein could be accommodated by an "alternative form of words" that would not compromise their beliefs. "There is already a choice between an oath and an affirmation," Mr Lidington said. "I think that if we were in a situation where mention of the Queen caused a problem to somebody whether they were Sinn Fein or a Labour backbencher, who believed in a republican rather than a monarchist form of governments, the Commons should look at it on an all-party basis." Instead of promising to be faithful to the Queen, Mr Lidington said republicans could pledge to support law and democracy. But he acknowledged that Sinn Fein's continued refusal to recognise the police in Northern Ireland would even make that wording difficult for them to "swallow". Mr Lidington said his comments were "hypothetical" given that the Oath of Allegiance was not the sole reason Sinn Fein MPs did not participate at Westminster. Republicans' desire for a united Ireland means they believe that Dublin should be the seat of power for the whole island. They oppose Britain's jurisdiction over Northern Ireland and claim that sitting at Westminster would undermine their principles.