BELFAST, Northern Ireland, Jan. 1 (UPI) -- Martin McGuinness, deputy first minister of Northern Ireland, said Monday he is giving up his seat in the British Parliament -- a seat he has never occupied.
McGuinness, a member of the republican Sinn Fein party, said the group now opposes "double jobbing," the holding of two political positions by one person, The Irish Times reported. McGuinness also sits in Northern Ireland's legislative assembly.
While McGuinness was elected to the Westminster Parliament 15 years ago, he has abided by the Sinn Fein policy of abstentionism in British political institutions, never actually participating in Parliament. He has been an active member of the Northern Ireland Legislature.
McGuinness said Sinn Fein and its elected officials "will continue the journey we have embarked upon."
"As the political landscape in the north continues to change, as it surely will, we remain committed to the goals of Irish republicanism and to serving the interests of all sections of society," he said. "I firmly believe that we can make further progress. This will require positive leadership from all parties. Sinn Fein remains firmly committed to playing a constructive role in the period ahead."