Stormont speaker Mitchel McLaughlin will not seek re-election as MLA
Stormont speaker Mitchel McLaughlin has said he will not seek re-election as an MLA in next year's Assembly election.
The Sinn Fein veteran announced his planned retirement from Stormont politics next spring at the opening of Tuesday's plenary session in Parliament Buildings.
The South Antrim Assembly member assumed the role of speaker at the start of 2015, replacing long-time incumbent Willie Hay.
The former Sinn Fein general secretary from the Bogside in Londonderry had previously served as principal deputy speaker.
"I turned 70 over the Halloween period and I look forward to the opportunity of doing other things outside of the Assembly," he told fellow MLAs as he announced his retirement plans.
Mr McLaughlin's appointment as Sinn Fein's first Assembly speaker came after a deal with the DUP to share the position across the current mandate.
His election was delayed, however, as a consequence of a wider political row between Sinn Fein and the DUP.
Mr Hay stepped down last October due to ill health.
Sinn Fein Education Minister John O'Dowd and DUP chief whip Peter Weir both wished Mr McLaughlin well in his retirement during Tuesday's opening exchanges of Assembly business.