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DUP's Sammy Wilson to step down as MLA

DUP East Antrim MP Sammy Wilson has announced that he is to step down as an Assembly member.

The DUP said in a statement that it has commenced the process within the party to appoint a replacement and that this will be announced in due course.

Sammy Wilson said: "It has been an honour to represent the people of East Antrim in the Assembly since 2003.  Of course I will continue to serve the constituency at Westminster.

"Having served as Finance Minister for four years it is deeply disappointing that I leave the Assembly at a time of such uncertainty caused because of the economic illiteracy of both Sinn Fein and the SDLP. Their refusal to live up to the commitments made in the Stormont House Agreement casts a shadow over the Assembly and is resulting in cuts to vital public services.

"Devolution is good for Northern Ireland and brings government closer to the electorate.  I have always supported local people making local decisions.  Whilst at Westminster, I will continue to campaign with my party colleagues for a normal system of government in Northern Ireland. The structures need to be reformed to allow efficient decision-making."

The Northern Ireland Office passed an act banning MPs from double-jobbing as MLAs in 2014. The law is due to come into force in March 2016.

DUP leader Peter Robinson MLA said: "Sammy has made a huge contribution to the Northern Ireland Assembly, in his role as a constituency representative as well as both a Committee Chair and Minister.

"He will continue to serve the people of East Antrim as their Member of Parliament.  His role in Parliament will be particularly vital given the very slim majority enjoyed by the current government and the influence this provides for the DUP.

"Whilst Sammy’s experience and expertise will be missed in the Assembly I look forward to announcing a replacement who will take up their post before the Assembly resumes sitting again in September."

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