Jim Wells to take a two-week break from political arena as he wants to 'recharge his batteries'
Former Health Minister Jim Wells has said he will take a two-week break from politics to "recharge my batteries" just days after it emerged he would not be prosecuted over alleged homophobic remarks he made about gay marriage.
The South Down MLA's wife is in a care home where she requires round-the-clock care after suffering two devastating strokes earlier this year.
The father-of-two made the decision after describing the last six months as the "darkest and loneliest" of his life.
The DUP man, who was forced to quit his post in April after he was accused of making homophobic remarks at a pre-election event, released a statement last night.
He said: "The last five months have been the most difficult of my life. Several family illnesses and the collapse of my political career have taken their toll. I have been under the most enormous pressure as I have been striving to clear my name after the false allegations made against me in April.
"Whilst I have been encouraged by recent successes, following discussions with the party leadership they have agreed to my request for a two week break from Stormont to recharge my batteries.
"I am extremely grateful to them and appreciate the duty of care that they have shown to me."
He then stated that he will not be making any further comment.
Christopher Stalford, a DUP councillor in Belfast, took to Twitter following the announcement: "I wish Jim Wells all the best as he takes a fortnight out to recharge his batteries. It has been a torrid time for him of late."
Mr Wells has launched legal proceedings against a number of media outlets, including the BBC, after the Public Prosecution Service decided not to prosecute him over remarks he made about same-sex marriage.
It was claimed he said children of gay couples were more likely to be abused than children of heterosexual couples.
Prosecutors said there was not enough evidence to charge Mr Wells.
"Forty years of hard work crashed around my head as a result of that 17-second tape which appeared on Twitter at 1am in April," Mr Wells told the Belfast Telegraph.
The PPS decision signalled the end of a six-month nightmare for Mr Wells, who has said he is now planning to sue organisations for defamation. He said he has already instructed his solicitor, Pat Kelly from McConnell Kelly, to initiate proceedings against one media outlet.
He said last night: "This is not about money, this is about clearing my name."
Mr Wells earlier revealed this week that his ill wife Grace has no idea he is no longer Health Minister because she was not well enough to be told.
"She has absolutely no concept of what is happening in the outside world," he revealed.
"There are times when she won't even speak to close family members during visits because of the way her brain was affected by the stroke, and sadly that is something that is unlikely to ever change.
"There would be no point in me trying to tell her what has happened because she wouldn't understand anyway," he added.
Mrs Wells suffered her first stroke on February 3. She suffered a second stroke while in hospital before undergoing an operation to repair a hole in her heart.