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Sinn Fein's Jennifer McCann resigns as West Belfast MLA

By Cate McCurry

Published 17/11/2016

Advisory position: Jennifer McCann
Advisory position: Jennifer McCann

Sinn Fein Assembly Member Jennifer McCann is to step down from her role at Stormont.

The West Belfast representative, who has been an MLA since 2007, will leave her post within the coming weeks.

A statement from the party confirmed the move, saying she is to take up a new role assisting Health Minister Michelle O'Neill.

Sinn Fein said that she will leave the Assembly before Christmas "in order to focus on the new role".

Ms McCann said: "My party colleague and Health Minister Michelle O'Neill is currently involved in the biggest transformation of the health service in more than seven decades.

"That is a huge task and she requested additional support from the party to deliver this important transformation. The party agreed, and I was honoured that I was asked to take up the role as a party adviser to the minister."

The mother-of-three faced calls to step down from her role as a junior minister in the Executive in 2014 over claims she failed to report abuse allegations made by IRA rape victim Mairia Cahill.

At the time DUP MLA Paula Bradley said Ms McCann should consider her position, alleging she knew of the abuse claims against Ms Cahill, but did nothing.

The remarks were made in the Assembly as Members debated a motion related to the case.

However, Ms McCann said at the time there was "no improper conduct" in her actions, and she would not cover up or protect anyone accused of sexual abuse.

Speaking about her new job, Ms McCann said: "I am looking forward to the challenges of this new role and to assisting the delivery of this radical shake-up of the health service to improve the health outcomes of people in West Belfast and across the North.

"It has been an honour and a privilege to represent the people of West Belfast and to serve as a junior minister."

Ms McCann's successor will be selected by the party on December 1.

Meanwhile, Belfast councillor Ross Brown has announced his decision to resign.

The Green Party member decided to step away from politics last month after being offered a new job that will require him to move away from Northern Ireland.

He will be replaced on Belfast City Council by party colleague Georgina Milne.

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