David Ford MLA is to step down as Alliance leader, effective from noon tomorrow (Thursday).
Mr Ford, who will continue serving as South Antrim MLA, will resign on the 15th anniversary of his taking the leadership of the party. His successor will be chosen by party members at a special Alliance Party Council on October 26.
An Alliance spokesperson said: “Under his leadership, Alliance has grown significantly in every form of election, having two serving Ministers in the previous Executive, while the party became the home of Europe’s first Parliamentarian from the Chinese community and saw its first MP elected.
“As Justice Minister between 2010 – 2016, he achieved a reduction in the number of interface structures, oversaw reform of prisons and the legal aid system, and introduced new laws to tackle sexual crimes, fuel laundering and animal cruelty among other accomplishments.”
Announcing his plans to step aside, Mr Ford said: “With my 15th anniversary, I felt it the most appropriate time to step aside and pass the reins to a new generation of leadership for the party.
“Alliance has a well-established new Assembly team, which has hit the ground running by successfully submitting a number of private member’s bills and continuing to provide the effective scrutiny of the Executive others have so far failed to do.
“I am proud to represent the people of South Antrim, who most recently re-elected me for my fifth Assembly term in May, and I will continue to do that in Stormont and in the constituency.
“Whoever succeeds me as Alliance leader will be taking over a party on the rise. I am confident they will continue that upwards trend of growing the party, while providing leadership for everyone in our community.”