Martin McGuinness given title of ‘steward and bailiff’

Northern Ireland’s deputy first minister awarded title as temporary formality after resigning as MP for Mid Ulster

Martin McGuinness has had many titles in his long career within Irish republicanism.

He has been accused of being the IRA’s one-time chief of staff and admitted during the Bloody Sunday Tribunal that he was the Provisionals’ second-in-command in Derry at the time of the massacre.

But now the Sinn Féin deputy first minister of Northern Ireland has been awarded the verbose English title of “steward and bailiff of the Manor of Northstead”.

McGuinness has been given the title as a temporary formality after he resigned as MP for Mid Ulster. He stepped down as part of Sinn Féin’s policy of ending “double jobbing” – holding more than one political post in Northern Ireland. It will also allow him more time to concentrate on the Stormont parliament.

A Treasury spokeswoman said the title was a legal fiction and carried no duties, functions or salary. Either it or a similar title – crown steward and bailiff of the Chiltern Hundreds – is conferred on resigning MPs whether or not they accept it.

Sinn Féin described the title as “antiquated and ludicrous” but said the party was now concentrating on retaining the seat McGuinness first won in 1997. A spokesperson said: “As Irish republicans we had no time for antiquated and ridiculous titles of the British parliamentary system and this remains the situation.

“What we need to see now is the writ being moved for a byelection to allow the people of Mid Ulster to have their say.”

Hardline unionist Jim Allister has called for a unionist unity candidate to stand in the byelection in order to win back the seat for unionism. © 2013 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds

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