West Tyrone Ulster Unionist MLA Ross Hussey has announced his retirement from political life citing health issues.
A serving Assembly member for almost six years, the former RUC reservist was the UUP’s Policing Board spokesperson.
With the number of Assembly seats in West Tyrone cut to five, Mr Hussey faced an uphill battle to retain his seat.
In a statement today, he revealed that he is on the waiting list for two replacement knees, with both operations potentially taking place within the next six months.
I have considered all the options and have decided on reflection I should step back and retire from my political life.
Anyone who knows me will know I have been suffering from various medical issues which includes the need for two replacement knees.
Like many others I am waiting for my operation and I have to have my right knee replaced and hopefully within six months have the second one done.
That means a prolonged period of recovery and if elected I would be absent from my desk for an extended period. I do not believe it would be right for me to stand and then ‘step back’ or have someone co-opted in possibly a short space of time.
Following a discussion with my family and the support of my party the Leader and chief whip I have decided to retire.
I have had an opportunity to represent Omagh town as a Councillor for seven years achieving vice chairmanship of Omagh District Council and I have had the honour of being an MLA for the constituency of West Tyrone for the past almost six years.
I have enjoyed my 12 years of public service. I believe my staff and I have made a difference to the people of this area, I must pay tribute to Audrey and Lesley two staff members who every day went far beyond any job description to deliver a first class service.
The future for me is probably back to books as I might go looking for a suitable Masters degree to keep my brain active.
I am and will always be an Ulster Unionist and I wish my successor and the party every success in this election and in the future.