Gerry Adams’s chicken run (a term admittedly used quite loosely) seems to have presented him with a bit of a problem. He is perfectly prepared to follow the niceties of the British Constitution to become a Member of the national Parliament, but not to cease to be so at a time of his choosing in order to become a member of another national Parliament. To me it seems a little intellectually dishonest to accept thousands of pounds in expenses by virtue of being an elected British legislator, but not the (one assumes) one pound to cease to be so. But I suppose it’s a fairly moot point.
The trouble is that since the passage of the Disqualifications Act 2000 (to which I shall return at some point in the coming weeks), being a TD is no longer a disqualification from being an MP, and the traditional alternatives seem unpalatable to Gerry’s sensibilities.
So what are the alternatives? Well it has been suggested that Gerry could simply show up at the Commons, and the seat would be vacated as if he were dead. The downside of this is that instead of taking £1 from the Queen, he would have to give her £500. Which might be a touch inconvenient.
Another option would be to choose one of the other disqualifying offices. The House of Commons Disqualification Act 1975 sets out the law in relation to being disqualified, regardless of being in office or not. Schedule one lists some of the offices an aspiring former member could apply for which would have the desired effect, including Charity Commissioner, Victims Commissioner, Equality Commissioner, Human Rights Commissioner, Judicial Appointments Commissioner and Parades Commissioner.
Alternatively Part Three of Schedule One included the Northern Ireland Agricultural Wages Board as a disqualifying office, the members of which being appointed by someone not unknown to the intrepid MP. If one of the three qualifying seats there is not available, perhaps appointment to the board of the Northern Ireland Transport Holding Company or Northern Ireland Water is another option.
Just a thought.