Saturday, January 29, 2011

Politics can be a funny old game

Politics can be a funny old game. You never know from one day to the next what might turn up. But some days are even more wacky than most. Last Wednesday was one such day.

The previous Thursday, after An Taoiseach announced that the election would be on March 11th, this blog set down at a desk in the new Sinn Féin campaign office in Dundalk and scribbled a short handwritten note to the speaker of the British Parliament.

‘A chara, I hereby resign as MP for the constituency of west Belfast. Go raibh maith agat. Gerry Adams.

This was in keeping with this blogs commitment to the people of Louth and East Meath that when the election was called I would resign the west Belfast seat as a demonstration of my resolve to give that constituency 100%. No safety net.

That was that.

Wednesday started early. Meetings and more meetings and a plan for later in the day to visit a Pharmaceutical Conference in the Institute of Technology in Dundalk.

And then David Cameron stood up in the British House of Commons and the schedule went out the window. He was being baited by Nigel Dodds of the DUP. Nigel whose no Sammy Wilson when it comes to jokes, succeeded in raising a chuckle from this blog when he asked Cameron was he aware that ‘one of the Members elected to this House has decided to emigrate’.

The British Prime Minister then told his audience that this blog had agreed to accept an ‘office of profit under the crown’ by taking up the position of Crown Steward and Bailiff of the Manor of Northstead.

What had up to then been a rather boring newsday for the media suddenly took on a new dimension. I should have known something was up when your man genuflected before me.

‘Sire’ he said ‘Methinks I should assemble the peasants in your honour’.

I ignored him but then the phones started buzzing as the media wanted to know was it true? Had this blog suddenly become a feudal baron? Would they now have to tug the forelock and bend the knee when meeting me?

The fact is Mr. Cameron’s claim was untrue. This blog had simply resigned. There was no other contact with the Brits on any of this. There was no consultation and no one in the Brit system had asked would this blog be even remotely interested in taking up such an offer.

Perhaps they already knew what my answer would be!

So, instead of asking this blog for his opinion the British Chancellor of the Exchequer decided to presume that my resignation was a request for such an office.

The Brits frequently presume that they know what’s best for others without asking first, hence their invasion of Iraq, their presence in Afghanistan and of course their occupation of this island.

This blog has been an Irish republican all my adult life and has refused to have any truck whatsoever with these antiquated and quite bizarre aspects of the British parliamentary system. The burghers of the Manor of Northstead must be as bemused as me and your man at this strange turn of events. He was now behaving like Baldric out of Blackadder. Meantime I contacted Downing Street to demand to know what was going on. There were several coversations with David Cameron’s Private Secretary and he apologised for what had happened.

While I respect the right of British parliamentarians to have their own protocols and systems, no matter how odd these may appear to the rest of the world in general and Irish people in particular, the Prime Minister should not make claims which are untrue and inaccurate.

I am proud to have represented the people of west Belfast for almost three decades and to have done so without pledging allegiance to the English Queen or accepting British parliamentary claims to jurisdiction in my country.

My first election contest was in west Belfast in 1982 for the Assembly elections. And from then until last week, with a short break in between, this blog was proud to represent the people of that fine constituency. I felt a real wrench as I posted my letter of resignation.

I am very grateful to all those citizens who worked and voted for Sinn Fein through good times and bad times in defiance of the British government and its allies in Ireland.

The onus is now on the Westminster parties to call a bi-election as soon as possible in the West Belfast constituency. In the meantime let me assure the people of West Belfast that the Sinn Fein party will continue to provide our first class constituency service and representation.

1 comment:

Timothy Dougherty said...

Interesting Gerry,
One coudld be the “Prisoner of the Crown,” in name only. Steward and Bailif of the Manor of Northstead, Yorkshire-It has no copyhold lands, nor are there any records of manor courts. There are no traces of any profits having ever been derived from the office. Now I don’t recognize the jurisdiction of any British court—civil or military in Ireland—But if you could exchange the this Stewardship for something of any real value . This Stewardship does not meet the tearms of English law , it is no profit in fact. The only method, therefore, of avoiding the rule came to be by accepting an office of profit from the crown, a statute of 1707 enacting that every member accepting an office of profit from the crown should thereby vacate his seat, but should be capable of re-election- Non-Profit for a non-law. I would not find acceptance of such a stewardship.