One of our most colourful MLAs has stepped down from the Assembly. Former Finance Minister, Sammy Wilson has resigned as an MLA for East Antrim in order to concentrate on Westminster.
Speaking about his decision he said;
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 First Minister was full of praise;
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
A successor hasn’t been selected yet, but I would expect rising star Cllr Gordon Lyons to be Wilsons successor. Lyons was a former aide to Wilson and current works in the DUP policy unit.
This leaves just Gregory Campbell as the only double jobber left in the Assembly
David McCann holds a PhD in North-South relations from University of Ulster. You can follow him on twitter @dmcbfs