Outgoing East Londonderry MLA Gerry Mullan is quitting the SDLP to stand in next month’s election as an independent candidate.
Mr Mullan, who is taking legal advice after being de-selected by the party, said his decision to go it alone was not an easy one.
A member of the SDLP for 17 years, he lost out to former MLA John Dallat, who came out of retirement to secure the party ticket.
“It is with the utmost regret and disappointment that I have been forced to surrender my allegiance to a party whose founding principles of fairness and equality I have so strongly upheld since its inception,” stated Mr Mullan.
“I am currently taking legal advice in relation to the manner in which my de-selection came about; these matters can take a long time to conclude and for that reason after a long period of soul searching and speaking with family and members of the community that I have decided to put my name forward as an independent candidate in the forthcoming elections.”
The Limavady man added that he has been boosted by the response locally.
Mr Mullan, who was elected last May to the Assembly, said: “I want to thank the hundreds of well wishers who have contacted me and encouraged me to continue the work I started only eight months ago and promise, if elected, to vigorously continue to work tirelessly on many of the social issues that effect the lives of ordinary people in this community, such as health, education, and employment as well as helping to bring to book anyone who is a drain on the public purse.
“As a member of the Finance Committee in Stormont I have been involved in the questioning of witnesses that have presented themselves to give evidence to the committee on such serious matters as the ‘Nama’ scandal.
“Work like that needs to continue and I hope that the public will give me the support I need to get re-elected.”