DUP MLA Ross announces decision to quit politics
DUP East Antrim MLA Alastair Ross has announced he will not seek re-election.
Mr Ross, a junior minister in the Executive Office said: "It has been an enormous privilege to represent the people of East Antrim at the Northern Ireland Assembly for the past 10 years, but I had taken a decision when elected in May 2016 that it would be my final election.
"The past 10 years has had its challenges, but there is no doubt that devolution is important for Northern Ireland and that having local representatives taking decisions is immeasurably better than direct rule.
"It is therefore deeply frustrating that Sinn Fein has decided to collapse the institutions and force an early election exactly at a time when we should be focusing on issues such as RHI, hospital waiting lists, leaving the European Union, getting a sustainable budget in place and growing the economy.
"For a decade now the DUP has led the Executive and over that time we have seen record levels of investment, growth in our tourism sector and major events coming to Northern Ireland.
"We have also frustrated efforts of republicans to deliver their own narrow agenda and in the process seen support for the Union at its highest level since the formation of the state.
"During that time I am particularly proud of my work in regard to criminal justice reform, playing my part in bringing the Giro d’Italia to Northern Ireland and my stand against dangerous presumed consent legislation."
Also not seeking election in the forthcoming poll are Sinn Fein's Catriona Ruane and Cathering Seeley the UUP's Ross Hussey and DUP MLA Sammy Douglas.
Mr Ross added: "As I prepare to step down from public office I also want to pay tribute to my friend and party leader Arlene Foster. Arlene has been subjected to the most unfair and relentless campaign against her in recent months, but over my time at Stormont I can genuinely say that I have not seen anyone devote more time, energy or commitment to improving the lives of people in Northern Ireland than Arlene Foster.
"This election is about who people want to lead this country and I intend on continuing to do what I can to ensure that unionism continues to be led by a strong DUP team.”
Belfast Telegraph Digital