FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE Martin McGuinness is to inherit a British title formerly held by Gerry Adams, after Sinn Féin announced a reorganisation of its Northern Irish representation that will see McGuinness resign as an MP.
The party confirmed this lunchtime that four members of the Stormont Assembly – Pat Doherty, Paul Maskey, Michelle Gildernew and Conor Murphy – will step down from their positions in order to devote more time to their duties in Westminster.
McGuinness, the Deputy First Minster in the Northern Ireland Executive, will meanwhile resign his seat as an MP for Mid-Ulster in order to concentrate more fully on his duties in Stormont.
His plans to resign as a member of the House of Commons in Westminster will mean he automatically inherits the title previously held by the party president Gerry Adams – becoming the new Crown Steward and Bailiff of the Manor of Northstead.
This is because there is no official mechanism through which an MP can resign – meaning members looking to give up their seats are instead considered to have applied for an ‘office of profit’ under the Crown, a job which then automatically disqualifies them from membership of parliament.
Though Adams insisted he had neither applied nor accepted the job, he officially held the title between January 26 last year – when he resigned from Westminster in order to concentrate on his Dáil election in Louth – and April 1, when he was replaced by the current holder, Peter Soulsby.
Resignations from the House of Commons are rotated between the Northstead position and a second, similar title – the Crown Steward and Bailiff of the Chiltern Hundreds.
McGuinness is assured of receiving the former title, however, as it most recently changed hands over a year ago, while the latter job was most recently filled only three months ago.
Though Sinn Féin MPs abide by the principle of abstentionism - refusing to take their seats in the House of Commons as they do not recognise its right to legislate for any part of Ireland – they continue to perform the other constituency duties associated with their roles, and have offices in Westminster.
Sinn Féin’s moves will see it end the practice of dual mandate ‘double-jobbing’, where politicians are members of more than one legislature at a time.