Approval was today given for a by-election in Belfast West after Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams stepped down to join the Dáil.
Adams, who never took his seat in the British House of Commons because he refused to swear allegiance to the Queen, formally took steps towards standing down from the UK Parliament after his election in the Louth constituency.
He won the Westminster seat of Belfast West for Sinn Féin with a 71% majority at the 2010 General Election.
Government chief whip Patrick McLoughlin today asked for permission to hold a by-election for the now vacant seat.
Mr McLoughlin said: “Gerry Adams, since his election, has been appointed to the office of Crown Steward and Bailiff of Her Majesty’s Manor for Northstead in the County of York.”
The position is a procedural device for MPs to leave their seats because they cannot technically resign.
MPs approved Mr McLoughlin’s motion without a vote meaning a timetable will now be set for the by-election.