Belfast Telegraph

Go-ahead given for Belfast poll

Approval has been given for a Westminster by-election in Belfast West after Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams quit to join the Irish Parliament.

The nationalist leader, who never took his seat in the Commons because he refused to swear allegiance to the Queen, formally took steps towards standing down from the UK Parliament after winning the Louth constituency for the Dail.

Mr Adams won the Westminster seat of Belfast West for Sinn Fein with a 71% majority at the 2010 General Election.

Government chief whip Patrick McLoughlin has asked for permission to hold a by-election for the now vacant seat.

Mr McLoughlin said: "Gerry Adams, since his election, has been appointed to the office of Crown Steward and Bailiff of Her Majesty's Manor for Northstead in the County of York."

The position is a procedural device for MPs to leave their seats because they cannot technically resign.

MPs approved Mr McLoughlin's motion without a vote meaning a timetable will now be set for the by-election.

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