By politics.co.uk staff
Martin McGuinness is stepping down as the MP for Mid-Ulster - despite never having actually taken his seat in Westminster.
The Sinn Fein deputy first minister, who shares power with the Democratic Unionist party's first minister Peter Robinson in Stormont, had previously followed his party's policy of not sending its MPs to London.
That approach is not changing, but a party move against "double-jobbing" means McGuinness wants to hand over the Westminster role to another politician.
"I am resigning as MP but I have no intention of leaving Mid-Ulster. South Derry and East Tyrone have suffered immensely as a result of the conflict," McGuiness said.
"I will always be grateful to the people of this area for trusting me to represent them and their interests.
"I will of course continue to represent the Mid-Ulster constituency in the assembly. I am honoured to do so both as an MLA [member of the legislative assembly] and as deputy first minister in equal partnership with Peter Robinson."
Instead Francie Molloy has been selected by Sinn Fein to contest the seat in an upcoming by-election.
Molloy will be defending a majority of over 15,000, which saw a 6.7% swing against the second-placed DUP in 2010. McGuinness took 52% of the vote.
Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams said in his new year's message: "The economic and political dynamics of the 21st century point to greater cooperation and harmonisation.
"Common sense and the logic of history, argue for the peaceful re-unification of our country.
"I believe it is possible to persuade a majority of citizens that the division and partition of the past can be replaced by a future based on unity and equality - an agreed Ireland and a pluralist, inclusive and modern republic."