Adams and McGuinness to take their Commons fight to Strasbourg

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Sinn Fein's two MPs plan to take their case to be granted the use of House of Commons facilities to the European Court of Human Rights, after a second ruling by the Speaker that they should be excluded.

Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness, who were elected in May for West Belfast and Mid-Ulster said they did not intend to take their seats or speak in the chamber and so would not need to take the Oath of Allegiance to the Crown. But after a half-hour meeting with Betty Boothroyd yesterday, they emerged to say they had been rebuffed again, as they had been in May.

Mr Adams said the decision showed that Irish republicans were still treated as second-class citizens in Westminster.

"There is a case going to Europe and that will proceed," he said. "The ruling by the Speaker was discriminatory, it was quite unjust and very unfair and it needs to be redressed."

Later, Ms Boothroyd issued a statement in which she said she had no choice but to exclude the two men. They were asking for "associate status" in the House and no such status existed, she said. The two men would continue to be entitled to free stationery with which to answer constituents' queries and would have access to ministers in the same way as other MPs.

"Swearing the Oath - or affirming - is a legal requirement that can not be set aside by administrative action. Primary legislation would be needed to change the Parliamentary Oaths Act or the form of the oath. It is your refusal to swear or affirm that prevents you taking your seats - not any action by me," she told the MPs.

Harry Barnes, MP for North East Derbyshire, said the oath should simply affirm that a members' duties would be faithfully discharged.