Martin McGuinness given aristocratic title after resigning as MP

Martin McGuinness Martin McGuinness has been appointed Steward and Bailiff of the Manor of Northstead

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Sinn Fein's Martin McGuinness has been given an English aristocratic title following his formal resignation as member of the UK parliament.

He has been appointed Steward and Bailiff of the Manor of Northstead by the chancellor, George Osborne.

The appointment is one of two titles traditionally conferred on resigning MPs, as under the constitution, an MP has no power of voluntary resignation.

Sinn Fein has dismissed the tradition as "antiquated and ridiculous".

His colleague and party president, Gerry Adams, was also given the title when he stepped down as MP for West Belfast in 2011.

Mr McGuinness, who is also the deputy first minister of Northern Ireland, confirmed on Sunday that he had formally resigned as MP for Mid-Ulster.

He will now concentrate on his role in the devolved Northern Ireland Assembly.

He stepped down as part of Sinn Fein's commitment to end double-jobbing - where politicians hold more than one elected post.

The 62-year-old, who was elected as MP for the constituency in 1997, never took his seat in the House of Commons, in line with his party's policy of abstention from Westminster.

A spokeswoman for the Treasury said the title of Steward and Bailiff of the Manor of Northstead was a "legal fiction" and carried no duties, functions or salary.

The move is a formality and either it or a similar title - the office of the Crown Steward and Bailiff of the Chiltern Hundreds - is conferred on resigning MPs, whether or not they accept it.

A Sinn Fein spokesperson told the Press Association (PA): "Martin McGuinness resigned the same way as Gerry Adams in 2011.

"As Irish republicans we gave no time for antiquated and ridiculous titles of the British parliamentary system then and this remains the situation.

"What we need to see now is the writ being moved for a by-election to allow the people of Mid-Ulster to have their say," the spokesperson added.

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