David McNarry signals intention to quit with swipe at SF
Ukip's only Assembly member has announced his intention to leave Stormont.
David McNarry (67) will remain as leader of Ukip in Northern Ireland but does not plan to run again.
The Strangford MLA suggested in an interview with this newspaper this year that he would like to stand in west Belfast as a unionist unity candidate. However the other unionist parties did not support him.
Announcing his intentions, Mr McNarry told Sinn Fein to abandon its dream of a united Ireland.
"As I leave the scene of active service as an elected representative after 15 productive years, it is clear that a united Ireland is but a mere bad dream for those who have pursued it through violence," he said.
"It is about time, therefore, that Sinn Fein and their fellow travellers associated with the flag of convenience called 'dissidents' parted company with the united Ireland mantra.
"Under no circumstances can the peace be attributed to those who reaped murder and mayhem on all society. It is insulting to hear Sinn Fein claiming a pivotal role in the peace-making."
Mr McNarry also criticised the DUP and Sinn Fein's partnership in government, and made a final call for the Executive to transform from a mandatory to a voluntary coalition.
"Together they have cobbled a joint Fresh Start manifesto, making me and others pose the obvious question, how many starts do they need?" he asked. "No more, as far as I am concerned.
"Politics in Northern Ireland comes of age when the forming of a voluntary coalition becomes a reality. It's called growing up and it's time it happened."
Mr McNarry was first elected to the Assembly in 2003 as a UUP representative. He left the party in 2012 following a row with then-leader Tom Elliott. Prior to that, he served as a councillor in Newtownards and a special adviser to former first minister David Trimble.
Ukip will run Stephen Crosby as its candidate in Strangford in May.