Alliance’s David Ford has announced he is to retire as an MLA.
Mr Ford will officially step down from the role on June 30, completing 20 years since he took his seat as MLA for South Antrim on July 1, 1998. His successor will be chosen by Alliance members in the constituency at a meeting tomorrow (Tuesday).
He served as Alliance Leader between 2001 and 2016, as well as being Justice Minister from 2010-2016. The 67-year-old former social worker also previously sat as a Councillor in Antrim and is current Alliance spokesperson on agriculture, the environment and rural affairs.
Under his leadership, Alliance held two positions in the Executive, while the party became the home of Europe’s first Parliamentarian from the Chinese community and saw its first MP elected.
“It has been an enormous privilege to represent the people of South Antrim and the wider Alliance Party for the entire life of the Assembly so far. However, I feel now is the right time for me to step down. This will enable my successor to settle in and work in the constituency during the ongoing impasse, then play a full role in the Assembly after it is restored,” he said.
“On June 30, I complete 20 years as a member of the Assembly, making it a fitting day to retire, which I do as ‘father of the house’. Until that point, I will continue to work for my constituents and on anything else the party requires me to do. I will of course remain an active party member and support it in any way I can to continue its trend of growing.
“I am privileged to have been elected by my neighbours in South Antrim on six occasions, and take pride in the legacy I leave in the constituency, in Alliance and in the Department of Justice. I know Alliance remains the best vehicle for establishing a united community for everyone in Northern Ireland. I leave the party team in safe hands with the next generation, under the leadership of Naomi Long and Stephen Farry.”