McGuinness awarded British title

 

Martin McGuinness has been awarded an English title to secure his resignation as an MP, the Treasury confirmed today.

The Sinn Féin Deputy First Minister of Northern Ireland, who has never taken his seat in Westminster, was appointed Steward and Bailiff of the Manor of Northstead.

Mr McGuinness formally announced he was resigning as Sinn Féin MP for Mid-Ulster late last month, saying the move was “in line with [his] party’s commitment to end double jobbing".

Under 400-year-old Westminster rules, an MP who wants to quit must temporarily occupy the Northstead sinecure, or become crown steward and bailiff of the three Chiltern Hundreds of Stoke, Desborough and Burnham. Appointment to the office is a procedural device to effect resignation from the House. The only other ways of  vacating a seat are death, disqualification or expulsion

In a statement today, the Treasury said: “The Chancellor of the Exchequer has this day appointed James Martin Pacelli McGuinness to be Steward and Bailiff of the Manor of Northstead.”

The job is unpaid and has no actual responsibilities as the manor house itself is now under a lake near Scarborough.. However, parliamentary protocol dictates that  it is technically an office of profit under the Crown, so anyone appointed to it automatically ceases to be an MP and has, in effect, resigned.

Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams had a similar title conferred on him after his resignation as MP for West Belfast last year but he branded the system antiquated and bizarre.

A spokesman for Sinn Féin said today: “Martin McGuinness resigned the same way as Gerry Adams in 2011.

“As Irish republicans we gave no time for antiquated and ridiculous titles of the British parliamentary system then and this remains the situation. What we need to see now is the writ being moved for a byelection to allow the people of Mid-Ulster to have their say.”

Mr McGuinness, who was elected as MP for Mid Ulster in 1997, said he planned to concentrate on his role as Stormont MLA and Deputy First Minister.

Francie Molloy will run for the seat in his place.

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