Martin McGuinness resigns from Westminster seat
Sinn Féin’s Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness has been awarded an English aristocratic title in order to secure his resignation as an MP, it has been confirmed.
His long-signalled resignation is part of a policy by Sinn Féin to end ‘double jobbing’. It followed the same arcane procedure required by the London Parliament, which previously imposed an equally controversial ‘royal title’ on Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams.
Like all other Sinn Féin MPs, Mr McGuinness has never taken his seat in Westminster. Despite this, he was accorded the royal appointment of the ‘Steward and Bailiff of the Manor of Northstead’, as part of the eclectic resignation process required by Britain’s parliamentary by-laws.
“Martin McGuinness resigned the same way as Gerry Adams in 2011,” a spokesman for Sinn Féin confirmed.
“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 by-election to allow the people of Mid-Ulster to have their say.”
Mr McGuinness was elected as MP for Mid-Ulster in 1997. He said his decision to stand down was in line with Sinn Féin’s commitment to end double-jobbing and 'he planned to concentrate on his role as a Stormont assembly member and deputy first minister.
Francie Molloy, a local member of the Stormont Assembly, will seek to hold Sinn Féin’s Mid-Ulster seat in the forthcoming by-election.
He was selected as his party’s candidate to contest the seat last month at a convention in Gulladuff, County Derry, in December.
A former director of elections for Bobby Sands, he was also involved in the civil rights movement.
In 2005, he was briefly suspended from Sinn Féin for saying he wanted the number of councils to be cut to 15, rather than seven - the party’s preferred number.
Mr Molloy, who will be defending a sizable Sinn Féin majority in the strongly natonalist onstituency, said he was delighted to be selected.
“The party has been represented by Martin McGuinness since 1997 and although he will be a hard act to follow if elected I will endeavour to serve the people of Mid Ulster with the same determination and fortitude in improving the lives of all the citizens of the area,” he said.
Speaking after Mr Molloy’s selection, Mr McGuinness said: “Francie will make an exceptional MP and representative for the people of Mid Ulster.”