SOUTH Belfast DUP MLA Jimmy Spratt is to step down from the Northern Ireland Assembly on health grounds.
Mr Spratt, who has spoken very publicly about his battle with bowel cancer, will leave the Assembly at the end of September following the completion of a number of cases and projects on which he is currently working.
“I have had the honour and privilege of representing South Belfast in the Assembly since 2007,” said Mr Spratt who was a former chairman of the Police Federation.
“During that time, I have not just worked for the people of my constituency, but I’ve helped to influence change for the benefit of the whole Province, particularly whilst a member of the Policing Board and as Chairman of the Regional Development Committee.
”Whilst I am sad that the public representative chapter of my life is now closing, my health must take precedence over the unrelenting nature of an MLA’s schedule.
“The role demands my attention seven days per week and many meetings take place late in the evening.
“To make a full recovery it is essential that my workload is lessened. However, whilst not in public life, I will continue to help the Party in any way I can.
”I was delighted with progress made by Jonathan Bell during the General Election campaign and I know that with further work the DUP will be in an even stronger position in South Belfast.”
First Minister and DUP Leader Rt Hon Peter Robinson MLA said: “Jimmy has been a vital part of the DUP team both during his time on Castlereagh Borough Council and within the Assembly.
“He has served the public throughout his career, firstly within front-line policing and then as an elected representative.
“That dedication was demonstrated in 2012 when he rearranged one of his chemotherapy sessions so he could fulfil his Chairman’s duties at a meeting of the Regional Development Committee.
“Jimmy has been a great friend as well as a colleague and I wish him well as he steps back from public life.
“I know he will continue to be a valuable source of advice for the party in South Belfast.”