Veteran SDLP MLA Ramsey to resign over ailing health
Pat Ramsey, the Foyle SDLP veteran, is being forced to give up his Assembly seat because a cocktail of diseases makes the travel too much to bear.
Mr Ramsey has had avascular necrosis, a rare disease also known as osteonecrosis. It restricts blood supply to his hips causing the death of bone tissue. With too little blood, the bone starts to die and may break down.
"I have suffered from it for over 20 years but in the past year I have also developed osteoarthritis in my spine. There are now general disc problems which are difficult to manage," he said.
These new complications, coupled with the punishing Stormont regime, brought things to a head for Mr Ramsey.
"Travelling to work from Derry to Stormont is two hours and two hours back and it is painful. My own consultant has been saying for several months that the travel alone was too much for me and I should be thinking of my position," he said.
He added: "After the summer recess, I discussed it with my own family and a decision was made then that I would resign. It was a very basic and simple decision. I loved Stormont, I loved my constituency role and I loved being a member of Derry City Council. In a normal job I could have adjusted my routine down to maybe three days a week but that isn't possible as an MLA."
Mr Ramsey had been a member of Derry City Council for 18 years until 2010 and was Mayor in 1999. He has been an MLA since 2003 but this morning his party will announce his resignation and open up a process to replace him with a co-optee in time to get established before next May's election.
"The party has a timetable put in place for an expression of interest for candidates. Selection is in a couple of weeks' time and I will cease to be an MLA at the end of the year," he said.