Gerry Adams becomes an Officer of the Crown of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
His ascension continues apace.
Ever since a resolution of 1624, Members of Parliament have been unable to resign their seat directly: ‘Death, disqualification and expulsion are the only means by which a Member's seat may be vacated during the lifetime of a Parliament.’
Any Member wishing to resign has been obliged to apply for a paid office of the Crown, which automatically disqualifies the Member from holding a seat in the House of Commons.
There are two such offices: Crown Steward and Bailiff of the Chiltern Hundreds and of the Manor of Northstead.
Michael Martin most recently held the former, and Iris Robinson the latter.
Gerry Adams has now succeeded Michael Martin and become an Officer of the Crown.
Which he wishes to do in order to stand for election to the Dáil.
Which he needs to do if he is ever to become Taoiseach.
Whilst being a member of the Dáil is no bar to sitting in Westminster, there is (apparently) an issue with a British MP sitting in the Irish Parliament (bit of a grudge?).
And so, contra the protestations and denials of Sinn Féin members, the Prime Minister said at PMQs that the Honourable Member for West Belfast ‘has just accepted an office of profit under the Crown’, which HM Treasury have confirmed in writing.
His Grace always knew that Gerry Adams would be forced to bow the knee some day.
The antipathy of Sinn Féin to the Crown is, of course, wound up with a few centuries of religio-political angst with all the old Protestant/Catholic and Pope/Parliament themes interspersed with inter alia Fitzgeralds versus Butlers; Raleigh’s incursions; the slaughter of Smerwick; a little Cromwell; an incidence of potato famine; and the inconvenience of internment.
But the refusal of Sinn Féin MPs to sit in the United Kingdom Parliament was not so much to do with the requirement that they were obliged to swear allegiance to Queen Elizabeth II and to her heirs and successors (though it is contrary to their constitution [5.2f], which could have been circumvented by doing what other godless and republicans do), but with the claims of the United Kingdom Parliament upon territory in the island of Ireland.
A member of Sinn Féin could hardly serve in a legislature which denies their party's foundational assertion of sovereignty over the whole of Ireland. For Gerry Adams, the claims of the British Parliament to the territory of ‘Northern Ireland’ are illegitimate and illegal.
For Sinn Féin, Éire is united and one.
And so Mr Adams has been principled and unwavering in his creed throughout his religio-political life.
For Baron Adams of Northstead Manor, or whatever he’s called, is not a very republican thing to be.
And one might have expected, knowing Mr Adams’ proclivity for death and destruction, that he might have preferred disqualification or expulsion from the House rather than tolerate even a whiff of the British Establishment.
Michael Crick observes that Mr Adams has missed a republican publicity trick of potentially seismic proportions, which could have elicited the debate of the decade on democracy, monarchy, rights and republicanism:
I was also advised that one way Adams might get round this without expressing allegiance to the British Crown in any form would be to turn up at the House of Commons and try to sit in the Chamber.But that opportunity has passed.
He would then be automatically disqualified from the House on the grounds that he hasn't sworn the oath, and a writ would then be moved for a by-election in West Belfast.
"The seat is vacated as if they were dead," I'm told.
And what a drama it would be if Adams were to do that, and be ejected from the Commons.
All that remains now is to see how ‘Conservative and Unionist’ Mr Cameron’s party is, and whether it is still the case that the Conservative Party exists to represent the British people in all four constituent nations of the United Kingdom.