Sinn Fein veteran Francie Brolly to retire
Veteran Sinn Fein politician Francie Brolly last night announced his intention to retire from the Stormont Assembly.
The 71-year-old east Derry representative said he will stand down before the end of the year.
The keen song writer, who achieved a degree of celebrity away from politics as one half of a musical duo with his wife Anne, entered electoral politics eight years ago after more than three and half decades as a teacher.
Away from music, the father of five also gained kudos in his hometown of Dungiven for his family's sporting achievements after his son Joe Brolly became an All Ireland gaelic football champion with Derry in 1993.
He admitted the decision to step down had been a hard one.
"I have been proud to serve the great people of East Derry in all their diversity and I thank God for the privilege of living among them in what is surely one of the most beautiful parts of Ireland, steeped in culture and rich in history," he said tonight.
"I am confident that Sinn Fein in East Derry is now stronger than at any time in our history.
"This was not an easy decision to make but there comes a point in everyone's life when they must take such decisions.
"I intend to remain active within Limavady and offer my full support to whoever the constituency selects to replace me in the Assembly."
Sinn Fein said there would now be a formal selection process and convention in the constituency.
Party president Gerry Adams paid tribute to his colleague's contribution towards republicanism.
"Francie Brolly has touched the lives of generations of people throughout Ireland and beyond," said the West Belfast MP.
"His has been a life full of commitment and dedication to the cause of Irish freedom and justice; to Irish culture and the language and, as a teacher, to the future of our young people. He brought an immense dignity and humour to the Republican struggle.
"Francie will be missed by our Assembly team and on behalf of the party I want to wish him, Anne and their clan all the best for the future."
Mr Brolly was elected to Limavady Council in 2001 and the Assembly in 2003 and 2007.
At Stormont he was a member of the Culture, Arts and Leisure Committee, where he lobbied strongly on behalf of gaelic language enthusiasts and the GAA.
His wife, Anne, was the first Sinn Fein Mayor of Limavady between 2003 and 2004, the council to which she was elected in 2001.