Adams 'becomes baron'

Wed, Jan 26, 2011, 00:00

Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams has officially resigned from his Westminster seat and now becomes Crown Steward and Bailiff of the Manor of Northstead, British prime minister David Cameron said today.

Mr Adams, who is standing in the upcoming general election, resigned his West Belfast seat in a letter to Commons Speaker John Bercow. But there was confusion over whether he had formally applied to the Chancellor for an office of profit under the Crown, a title that makes a person ineligible to sit in the Commons.

A 400-year-old rule that requires him to accept a British crown-paid post before he could quit.

At Commons question time today, David Cameron told MPs that Mr Adams had agreed to become “baron of the Manor of Northstead”.

Responding later, Mr Adams said in a statement: “The only contact I have had with the British Parliament is a letter I posted to them last Thursday.

That letter said: “A chara, I hereby resign as MP for the constituency of west Belfast. Go raibh maith agat. Gerry Adams.

"When I was told of the British prime minister’s remarks today this was the first I heard of this development. I understand Mr Cameron has claimed that ‘the Honourable Member for West Belfast has accepted an office for profit under the Crown'.

"This is untrue. I simply resigned. I was not consulted nor was I asked to accept such an office. I am an Irish republican. I have had no truck whatsoever with these antiquated and quite bizarre aspects of the British parliamentary system," Mr Adams said.

Mr Cameron's comments came after DUP spokesman Nigel Dodds said: “You may be aware that one of the members elected to this House has decided to emigrate - and you may want to chalk that up as one of your achievements.

“The said Member for West Belfast, Gerry Adams, seems to be embarrassed about applying for an office under the Crown, an office for profit - although he has shown no such embarrassment of profiting from his office in this House for many years at taxpayers’ expense."

“When will you deliver on your pre-election pledge to hard-pressed taxpayers that you will abolish parliamentary money for parliamentary purposes going to those who do not fulfil their parliamentary duties?”

Mr Cameron replied: “First of all, just in case people haven’t caught up with the news, you are quite right that the Honourable Member for West Belfast has accepted an office for profit under the Crown, which of course is the only way you can retire from this house.”

To laughter, he added: “I’m not sure that Gerry Adams will be delighted to be a baron of the Manor of Northstead. But nonetheless I’m pleased that tradition has been maintained.

“In my view, what we should be aiming for is for all Members who are elected to take their seats in this House. That is what should happen.

“And if some Members have a problem with what that entails, they ought to look at a remedy for that and they should come and talk about that. I think that is the most important thing we can achieve.”

Mr Adams is running for his party in the Louth constituency for the upcoming general election.

He was unopposed for the party’s nomination and said he would be a “huge honour” to work for the people of the county if elected to Dáil Éireann.

PA