David Ford said: “I was first elected to the council in 1993 and have been re-elected twice since then. I have greatly enjoyed my time in the council and believe I have made a contribution to the council’s work on behalf of everyone in Antrim. In particular, during in my time on the council, we have seen significant progress on environmental issues and I take pride in helping to ensure that Antrim is at the top of the league in terms of waste recycling.
“I am also glad that recent years have seen significant improvements in relationships between the parties in the council, due in no small measure to the work of my colleagues Oran Keenan and Alan Lawther. This has made the council a much more pleasant place to work and has had positive results for our citizens.
“However, I now believe that I should step down from council to concentrate on my responsibilities in the Department of Justice. I do not believe that any Minister should also be a local councillor.
“Back in 2001, I stepped down from the Council to concentrate on the Assembly. Sadly, the next year, the Assembly was suspended which was why I stood again for the council in 2005 and was elected again with a further increased vote. I am happy that the Assembly is now in a much more stable position and contributing positively to life in Northern Ireland.
“Because of recent changes in the law, the Council no longer risks the cost of a by-election when there is a vacancy. The Party Leader of the party which won the seat is entitled to nominate a replacement. As a democrat, I am asking that a meeting of local Alliance members be called to choose my replacement. As soon as that is done I shall formally resign from the Council.
“I have received many expressions of good wishes from councilors and citizens in Antrim and Newtownabbey since I was elected Justice Minister. I send good wishes to my fellow councillors in both districts as they prepare for the coming council reforms.
“I have every confidence that the growing Alliance teams in both parts of South Antrim will continue to achieve successes for all the people in these areas. I will be seeking to support them at Stormont.”