According to this morning’s Telegraph, David Lidington MP, Shadow Northern Ireland Secretary, has floated the idea that Sinn Fein’s five MPs could be permitted to take an "alternative" oath that would not involve swearing allegiance to the monarch. Mr Lidington is quoted as saying the following:
"There is already a choice between an oath and an affirmation. 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."
Mr Lidington suggests that an alternative pledge might require support of UK law and democracy. The two main version of the current oath/pledge are…
(a) "I [name of MP] swear by Almighty God that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth, her heirs and successors, according to law. So help me God."; and
(b) "I [name of MP] 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."
Instead of promising to be faithful to the Queen, Mr Lidington said republicans could pledge to support law and democracy.
The Ulster Unionist peer Lord Kilclooney of Armagh (previously John Taylor MP) told The Telegraph that he was "shocked" that a shadow cabinet spokesman could make such a suggestion.