I am told that a young Sinn Fein member of the UK Youth Parliament named Connor Morgan (pic, right) will be speaking in the House of Commons chamber today. Yes, you read that right. A Sinn Fein member speaking in a UK Parliament. There are two ways of looking at this. You can take the view that it is a sign of how far the peace process has come that a Sinn Fein member is a member of a UK (emphasis on the UK) Youth Parliament, let alone is being allowed to sit on the hallowed benches of the Mother of Parliaments. Or alternatively it will make you sick to your stomach that someone who presumably agrees with the views of Messers McGuinness and Adams and would refuse to swear the oath of allegiance to Her Majesty the Queen is allowed to set foot in the place.
But this story has two twists. Connor Morgan told my assistant, Grant Tucker, yesterday that he would be making a speech during the proceedings today and he would be doing it while speaking Irish Gaelic*. Not only that, but according to Morgan, Mr Speaker Bercow had readily given his permission to do that. If that is true (and I emphasise, IF), it's incredible and will undoubtedly have consequences.
Mr Morgan has a charming turn of phrase. On his Facebook page he says, referring to George Osborne...
Gideon, get off my TV, you're a c*nt.
Of course if young Mr Morgan (pic, centre) used that word in the House of Commons today, no one would know, as no one else would be able to understand a word he would be saying.
As far as I am concerned if you can’t pledge your oath of allegiance to the Queen you shouldn’t sit in the House of Commons. Simples. But the fact that Sinn Fein are allowing him to speak in the Chamber is even more shocking. Or perhaps they remain in blissful ignorance.
The second twist is to question Mr Morgan's sense of good taste. On his Facebook page he is pictured taking part in a Hunger Strike protest, wearing what I am pretty sure is an RUC uniform, and carrying a gun. Next to him is someone with a sawn off shotgun, if I am not mistaken. A UUP friend of mine said last night he found it "sickening for them [the uniforms] to be used in this manner".
So on the twentieth anniversary of the IRA murder of one of the House of Commons' finest MPs, Ian Gow, the chamber in which he was so proud to sit is about to be spoken to by someone who clearly has at least a modicum of sympathy with those who took his life.
I applaud the peace process. It is remarkable what has been achieved on both sides of the political divide. But the fact that Sinn Fein MPs do not take their seats still shows what a divided place Northern Ireland is. I have tried to write up this story in an unemotional manner but believe me, I am tempted to write it very differently. For my heart still tells me this is wrong. That a supporter of a cause which took the lives of Lord Mountbatten, Airey Neave, Ian Gow and so many more besides, should today be sitting beneath the plaque to Airey Neave in the chamber of the House of Commons, leaves me cold.
* I believe the only MP to speak Gaelic in the House of Commons was the LibDem Ray Michie, who swore the oath in Gaelic when she took her seat in 2001. Unless, of course, you know different.
UPDATE: Another two lovely status updates from Connor Morgan's Facebook page...
Connor Morgan Facebook "Connor is attending global celebration when maggie thatcher dies. • RSVP to this event"
Connor is attending Having a Party when Thatcher Dies. • RSVP to this event
Connor Morgan "Happy birthday you old bastard" (Thatcher)
What a charming lad he is.
UPDATE: LibDem blogger Stephen Glenn explains why I am wrong. Tory Radio on why I disgust him.