Stormont Speaker, Mitchel McLaughlin, has told MLAs that he will not be seeking re-election at next year’s Assembly election.
Mr. McLaughlin announced that he would not be seeking re-election as an MLA and consequently would not be seeking re-election as Assembly Speaker, to MLAs on Tuesday.
“Before commencing business today [Tuesday], I want to bring another matter to the House’s attention. Members will be aware that the AERC Committee is currently gathering evidence for its inquiry into the Assembly and Executive Review Bill.
“I will be submitting evidence on a range of matters in relation to the House’s procedures and I will be putting that evidence into the library so it is public for the information of all members.
“However, that Bill also contains proposals in relation to the future election of the Speaker so it is important for me to be clear that I have no self interest in those proposals.
“I know it is no secret to many members but I want to publicly put it on the record today that I will be stepping down as a member of this assembly at the end of this mandate. I will not therefore be seeking re-election as speaker.
“I turned 70 during the Hallowe’en recess and I look forward to the opportunity to doing some other things outside of this Assembly.”
Mr. McLaughlin added: “However, there will be plenty of time to be reflective at a later point and I am making this announcement at this stage only to show proper courtesy to the House.
“There is a lot of work in front of all of us in the next few months. There are a lot of issues I still want to try and make progress on with not much time to do it.
“However, I am particularly focused on managing the heavy legislative workload which I am expecting to confront us in the months ahead. That will be challenging and I will be speaking to the Business Committee about it today.”
Mr. McLaughlin, who was born in Derry in 1945, officially became the fourth speaker at the Assembly in Stormont in January.
Mr. McLaughlin has been a Sinn Fein MLA for South Antrim since 2007; he served as MLA for Foyle from 1998 to 2003.
It is not yet known who will succeed Mr. McLaughlin as speaker.