The son of North Down DUP MLA Gordon Dunne is to take over his father’s Assembly seat as he steps down due to ill health, it has been announced.
In a statement the DUP leader Edwin Poots said Councillor Stephen Dunne (32) will be co-opted to the Assembly, and said his father had been “a first-class representative and MLA”.
Gordon Dunne announced his retirement from the Assembly last week, having first been elected as an MLA in 2011.
His son is a former student at Bangor Grammar School and a Queen’s University graduate.
First serving as a councillor for Ards and North Down Borough Council in 2013, he won election for the role in 2014 and 2019 as well as serving in his father’s constituency office for ten years.
Mr Poots said: “These are difficult circumstances, and our prayers are very much with Gordon and the wider Dunne family at this time of illness. Gordon has been a first-class representative and MLA.
“Stephen knows the issues and brings a youthful energy and passion to the role. He will be a tireless advocate, having served both as a Councillor and as a constituency worker in North Down. Importantly, Stephen has a proven track record of delivery for constituents and will be a superb addition to the DUP Assembly team in Stormont.”
Stephen Dunne commented: “I am honoured to have been co-opted by the Democratic Unionist Party as an MLA for North Down, replacing my father Gordon, who has unfortunately had to step down due to serious illness, after his thirty-six years of service as an elected representative.
“I have big shoes to fill in the Northern Ireland Assembly, but I will do my best to build on his work over many years, and deliver for the people of North Down, in this Centenary year.”
He added: “I have served as a local Councillor since 2013 on Ards and North Down Borough Council and worked alongside Gordon for over ten years in his busy Constituency Advice Centre. I fully recognise and appreciate the importance of having an accessible advice service to help and deliver for those in need on a wide range of issues right across the community. I look forward to the challenges ahead as a member of the Assembly.”