Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams has confirmed he will risk his political future and fight for election in the Republic of Ireland to help tackle its economic crisis.
The shock move will see him resign his West Belfast seats in the Northern Ireland Assembly and at Westminster to contest the next General Election in the south.
As part of his major political gamble, he plans to defend the Republic's Co Louth seat being vacated by party colleague Arthur Morgan, who last week announced his decision to step down.
Mr Adams confirmed his strategy in a speech to supporters at a republican commemoration in Edentubber in Louth, and described it as a major initiative by Sinn Fein - but the tactic has surprised observers.
"In the past I have asked people to step forward and to show leadership," he said.
"I have asked people to make a stand. I believe that it is my duty at this critical time to step forward and do what I have asked of others."
He added: "This means that I will be stepping down as an MLA for West Belfast. My replacement will be chosen this week. I am proud and honoured to have represented the people of West Belfast in the Assembly. I will remain as MP until the next Leinster House election."
Mr Adams said: "This is a significant initiative by the Sinn Fein leadership. It is a measure of our determination to provide a real alternative to the consensus for cuts being pushed by the other parties."
He added: "As leader of Sinn Fein, I want to be part of the necessary fight-back against bad economic policies in both parts of this island and for a fair, decent and united society for all the people of Ireland."
He paid tribute to Mr Morgan, whose decision to resign at the next election had presented the opportunity for Mr Adams' new direction.