The reason I'm referring to one of the two "offices of profit under The Crown" in Gaeilge (Irish) first today is because of the irony that today brings. The taking of such an office disqualifies an individual from sitting as a Member of Parliament, that steward of one of those offices is someone who hasn't taken his seat since first being elected on 9 June 1983 (though not the MP from 1992-97).
May I introduce Gearóid Mac Ádhaimh, Maor an Mhainéir na Northstead (Gerry Adams, Steward of the Manor of Northstead).
If Eric Illsley, MP for Barnsley Central, had actually already stepped down the Sinn Féin president would have been taking an office off the wife of the DUP's First Minister. As it is Illsley only announced on 12 January that he was winding down his office, before stepping down as an MP before he is sentenced next month for his guilt of false accounting over his expenses.
Update: On Monday 24 January it emerged than somehow Gerry Adams had managed to resign as an MP without taking an "Office of Profit Under the Crown". Has he managed in his final act to change the British constitution? We may have to wait until the next Stewardship is announced from the Treasury. If it is Northstead, some deal has been done, if it the Chiltern Hundreds, it has merely been supressed.
Update: On 25 January Ian Paisley MP (Antrim North) raised a point of order to the speaker about the status of Mr Adams resignation, asking had he accepted an office of profit under the crown in his correspondence to the speaker. In the reply the speaker stated that correspondence with him was confidential, but that the matter was one that should be resolved and shall be.
Update: In Prime Minister's on the 26 January Nigel Dodds MP (Belfast North) asked the following question:
"You may be aware that one of the Members elected to this House has decided to emigrate - and you may want to chalk that up as one of your achievements.
"The said Member for West Belfast, Gerry Adams, seems to be embarrassed about applying for an office under the Crown, an office for profit - although he has shown no such embarrassment of profiting from his office in this House for many years at taxpayers' expense.
"When will you deliver on your pre-election pledge to hard-pressed taxpayers that you will abolish parliamentary money for parliamentary purposes going to those who do not fulfil their parliamentary duties?"
To which David Cameron responded
"First of all, just in case people haven't caught up with the news, you are quite right that the Honourable Member for West Belfast has accepted an office for profit under the Crown, which of course is the only way you can retire from this house.
"I'm not sure that Gerry Adams will be delighted to be a baron of the Manor of Northstead. But nonetheless I'm pleased that tradition has been maintained.
"In my view, what we should be aiming for is for all Members who are elected to take their seats in this House. That is what should happen.
"And if some Members have a problem with what that entails, they ought to look at a remedy for that and they should come and talk about that. I think that is the most important thing we can achieve."
So there we have it finally confirmed 6 days later (and after I first wrote this), Gerry Adams (Gearóid Mac Ádhaimh) is the Steward of the Manor of Northstead (Maor an Mhainéir na Northstead).
~ Translation Good luck to the new Steward of the Manor of Northstead.
* When Times columnist Matthew Paris took the Stewardship of the Manor of Northstead in place of Enoch Powell.