Quigley confirms political exit

The leader of the SDLP on Derry City Council, Helen Quigley, has confirmed she's not going to contest the next Assembly elections and won't be seeking re-election to Derry City Council.

The shock news that the former Mayor was considering her future as an SLDP public representative was broken in today's Journal.

The SDLP confirmed today that Councillor Quigley had resigned as party leader on the Council, but said she would remain a party member.

In a statement a few minutes ago, Councillor Quigley said; "In response to the very many messages of good will which I have received today I am issuing this statement to thank supporters, constituents, friends and family for their kind words and good wishes.

"Over the past week I have had frank and confidential discussions with the party leader and the party central and I intend to maintain the confidentiality of those discussions. However, I now confirm that I will not contest next May's Assembly elections, nor will I seek re-election to Derry City Council.

"Since entering politics I have always been guided by the principles of fairness, justice and equality and I remain true to those principles. It has been a great honour for me to serve the people of Derry as a Councillor and as Mayor. My life as a public representative has been both enriching and rewarding and I remain committed to the city and to the people.

"It is my intention to make no further comment on this matter."

Party sources suggest that Councillor Quigley's decision follows a row about who should replace Foyle MP Mark Durkan in the Assembly. However earlier today an SDLP spokesperson denied that was the case.

In a statement, Mr Durkan said he deeply regretted her decision and was still hoping she would reconsider. Councillor Quigley's statement tonight appears to have closed the door on that possibility.