‘Baron’ Adams bristles over Crown appointment
‘Baron’ Adams bristles over Crown appointment

Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams, who tendered his resignation as a member of the Westminster parliament last week, was subsequently appointed without his agreement to a paid Crown position in order to satisfy a 400-year old statute, according to British officials.

The British Prime Minister’s claim that Mr Adams had accepted the title of ‘Baron’ and the position of the ‘Crown Steward and Bailiff of the Manor of Northstead’ made international headlines.

The appointment to a paid Crown position is required under British law in order to bypass arcane parliamentary rules prohibiting an MP from resigning. Mr Adams’s resignation letter was reportedly treated as an application for one of the two designated crown offices and dealt with accordingly.

The ‘appointment’ fuelled Tory and unionist sniggering at the House of Commons as prime minister David Cameron told the parliament (falsely) that Mr Adams had “accepted an office of profit under the crown”.

Mr Adams later pointed out that he had not applied for the crown post nor had he accepted the appointment, as Mr Cameron had claimed.

“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,” he said.

Mr Adams said the only contact he had with the British Parliament is a letter he 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”

Mr Adams said he was proud to have represented the people of west Belfast for almost three decades and to have done so “without pledging allegiance to the English Queen or accepting British parliamentary claims to jurisdiction” in Ireland.

“It was a wrench for me to give up the West Belfast seat. I am very grateful to all those citizens who worked and voted for Sinn Fein through good times and bad times in defiance of the British government and its allies in Ireland.

“But I gave a commitment that when the election to the Dail was called I would resign the West Belfast seat to stand for the Louth and East Meath constituency and I have.

“Mr. Cameron’s announcement that I have become Crown Steward and Bailiff of the Manor of Northstead, wherever that is, is a bizarre development. I am sure the burghers of that Manor are as bemused as me. I have spoken to the Prime Ministers Private Secretary today and he has apologised for today’s events.

“While I respect the right of British parliamentarians to have their own protocols and systems, no matter how odd these may appear to the rest of the world in general and Irish people in particular, the Prime Minister should not make claims which are untrue and inaccurate.

“The onus is on the Westminster parties to call a by-election as soon as possible in the West Belfast constituency. In the meantime let me assure the people of West Belfast that the Sinn Fein party will continue to provide our first class constituency service and representation.”

A Downing Street spokesman later said Mr Cameron’s private secretary had apologised to Mr Adams for the fact that news of the appointment had been made public without his foreknowledge.

The opposition Labour Party also called in the House of Commons for a change in the rules to allow a member of parliament to resign in a normal manner.

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