Jimmy Spratt to leave the Assembly in September

Report from the Belfast Telegraph that the South Belfast DUP MLA, Jimmy Spratt will step down from the Assembly this September due to health reasons.

This will mean that from September 4 out of 6 MLAs in the constituency will have been co-opted leaving just Michael McGimpsey and Anna Lo as the only reps who were elected in 2011.

A few things could happen here. The DUP could do what Sinn Fein did with Mairtin Ó Muilleoir and Alex Maskey. They could move Jonathan Bell from Strangford and co-opt somebody for his vacant seat in Strangford. This would allow him to continue building a profile in the constituency and allows a newer face to come into a much safer seat in Strangford.

Alternatively, there is Christopher Stalford or Ruth Patterson (she came within a few votes of unseating Conall McDevitt in 2011). Or they could just pick an outsider whom we have never heard of.


David McCann holds a PhD in North-South relations from University of Ulster. You can follow him on twitter @dmcbfs