Sinn Fein challenges loyalty oath

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The Independent Online
Sinn Fein's chief negotiator, Martin McGuinness, has started court action challenging the legality of MPs being asked to swear an oath of allegiance to the Queen.

The member for Mid Ulster is also contesting the legality of MPs being denied their parliamentary privileges if they refuse.

Just hours before his live television debate with Ulster Unionist Ken Maginnis last night, solicitors acting on his behalf lodged papers at the Northern Ireland High Court in Belfast seeking a judicial review of the oath's legality.

It come after Betty Boothroyd, the House of Commons Speaker, decided to impose restrictions on his access to Parliament and the services and facilities available to him.

Mr McGuinness said: "This is an unlawful and procedurally improper process and it should be quashed." Sinn Fein said it expected the High Court hearing would be fairly soon.

If Mr McGuinness is successful, then he and Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams, MP for West Belfast, will have access to full Commons facilities.