Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 24 April 2014

Sinn Fein chief Gerry Adams rejects aristocratic Baron title

Cameron apologises as party leader embarrassed by quirk of UK protocol

Gerry Adams

It's a first for Sinn Fein: a party leader with a lengthy British title. Gerry Adams -- aka Crown Steward and Bailiff of the Manor of Northstead -- yesterday gave up his British parliamentary seat, but in the process gained a title.

Bizarrely it's a name that was previously bequeathed to fellow Northern Ireland politicians, Ian Paisley and Peter Robinson.

Centuries-old parliamentary rules mean that after being "duly chosen" by the people, MPs cannot officially resign. To circumvent this, a resolution was passed in 1624 which means that those who resign have to accept a "paid office of the crown".

This was done on the assumption that the newly titled member could not be expected to scrutinise the government.

Two titles are alternated among those who resign, and the Sinn Fein leader has been passed the baton from former title-holders Boris Johnson and Peter Mandelson.

But yesterday a singularly unimpressed Mr Adams strongly denied that he had accepted the title.

Earlier Prime Minister David Cameron had announced to sniggering MPs that the staunch Republican had accepted the office for profit and become 'Baron of the Manor of Northstead'.

However, last night Mr Adams -- who is attempting to gain his first Dail seat -- said he had received an apology from Mr Cameron's office.

"This is untrue," he said in a statement. "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.

"I have spoken to the prime minister's private secretary today and he has apologised for today's events."