UUP MLA Ross Hussey standing down on health grounds
MLA says recovery from knee surgery will take too long for him to stay
Ulster Unionist MLA for West Tyrone Ross Hussey has confirmed he won't seek re-election due to health concerns
Mr Hussey said he is currently awaiting knee surgery and believes the recovery time needed would take him too long to justify staying in his job.
A former RUC officer, Mr Hussey was first elected to Stormont in 2011 and was also a member of the Policing Board.
He previously served as a councillor in his home town of Omagh since 2005.
In a statement Mr Hussey said he was sad to retire from politics, but wished his party and future successor well.
“I have carefully considered all the options open to me at this time and have decided on reflection I should step back and retire from political life," he said.
"Anyone who knows me will know I have been suffering from various medical issues which includes the need for two replacement knees.
“Like many others I am waiting for my operation. I have to have my right knee replaced and hopefully within 6 months have the second one done. That means a prolonged period of recovery and if elected I would be absent from my desk for an extended period. I do not believe it would be right for me to stand and then 'step back' or have someone co-opted in possibly a short space of time.
“Following a discussion with my family and with the support of my party, the Leader and chief whip, I have decided to retire."
“I have had an opportunity to represent Omagh town as a Councillor for 7 years achieving vice chairmanship of Omagh District Council and I have had the honour of being an MLA for the constituency of West Tyrone for the past almost 6 years.
“I have enjoyed my 12 years of public service. I believe my staff and I have made a difference to the people of this area and I must pay tribute to them for going far beyond any job description to deliver a first class service on a daily basis."
He added: “I am and will always be an Ulster Unionist and I wish my successor and the Party every success in this election and in the future.”
In July last year Mr Hussey was left red faced after a sting by the Sunday Life revealed details of his private life, in which it was revealed he had used an online dating app to arrange "stranger sex" and had sent nude pictures - unasked for - to an undercover reporter.
He admitted at the time he made "a terrible error of judgment," but was backed by his party colleagues and received hundreds of messages of support from the public and was soon back to work.
The Ulster Unionist leader Mike Nesbitt said his colleague would be missed.
“I am saddened to hear that Ross has decided to step down," he said.
"Ross has served his country as member of the RUC and then continued to serve the community through politics. He has given years of loyal service to the Ulster Unionist Party and to the people of West Tyrone whom he represented. He will be greatly missed by me and the rest of his colleagues in the Assembly group and of course by the people of West Tyrone who he has served so diligently."
He continued: “I especially want to thank Ross for his words of support since I became leader of the party and I hope that his health improves so that he can continue to play a role.”