Swearing (in)

Colm Eastwood cuts a youthful figure. Even with that beard and the touch of grey he still looks boyish. Picture him alongside MarkDurkan and you’ll know what I mean.

This week Colm was inducted into the British House of Commons. In fact there is nothing common about the inhabitants of the House of Commons: out of over 60 million+ people there are only something over 600 who can add the magic letters MP to their name.

But it’s not the MP title this the problem/issue. The problem/issue is they won’t let you put your bum on the green bench if you don’t swear that you’ll be loyal to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.

Watching Colm yesterday on telly was very, very funny. He was either very cross or pretending to be very cross with the man who swore him in. Colm said he took the oath of allegiance “under duress’. My trusty dictionary tells me duress means threats or violence used to coerce someone into doing something against their will or better judgement.

Was Colm coerced? Not really. I could see no guns, coshes or tasers  which might have been used to coerce him into declaring loyalty to HM. What Colm meant, I think, was that he was really, really cheesed off on his own behalf (and that of the people of Derry –that always goes down well).

But here’s the thing: he didn’t have to do it. He wasn’t forced to do it. The oath of loyalty was an obstacle and to get him to where he was born to be – on a green bench – Colm had to swear allegiance to Her Majesty.

Were you to ask Colm he might reply he’d had his cake and eaten it. The rest of us probably saw it as swearing allegiance to Elizabeth II And even though Colm pointed out that Parnell and Hume (see what he did there?) also took the oath,   I  think most of us already knew that.

So from now on Colm is a faithful subject of QE2, and one who has sworn publice allegieance to her. Either that or he’s told what we professional moralists like to call a big fat lie.  

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