The one-time North Down Alliance Party councillor and former Green Party MLA Brian Wilson has announced that he will stand as an independent in May’s Assembly elections.
Mr Wilson, who was on the old North Down council for more than 30 years but did not stand for the new Ards and North Down council, is well known in the area – particularly in Bangor West, where he lives.
The one-time economic lecturer topped the council poll in that ward in six successive elections under the various labels Alliance, Green and independent.
Mr Wilson’s announcement will concern both Alliance and the Green Party, given his the strong levels of electoral support he has been able to attract in the past.
He was elected to the Assembly in 2007 for the Greens, but stood down in 2011 after promising that party and his constituents that he would serve only one term.
Mr Wilson said: “Although I may have changed parties I have never compromised the principles which brought me into politics 30 years ago.
“These include fighting sectarianism and discrimination in all forms, opposing violence, working to create a more just society and to provide a better future for our young people.”
He said that North Down “has a long tradition of voting for the person rather than slavishly following a party line”.
“Successive MPs Jim Kilfedder, Robert McCartney and Lady Hermon were all elected on their own records following a split with their party.”
Mr Wilson, whose wife Anne was also an Alliance councillor, said: “When I left the Assembly in 2011 I certainly had no wish or intention to return but as I followed the action or more accurately the inaction of the Assembly over the past five years I began to despair as all the goodwill enjoyed following the Executive agreement was being rapidly lost.
“The Assembly has become known for its allowances scandal, gridlock, refusal to hold Executive meetings, petty bickering, insults over language and point scoring over incidents of decades ago.
“To many particularly the young it has become a sick joke. Instead of agreeing plans for the future the emphasis has been on point scoring and blame for events of the past. No wonder our young people are leaving in droves.”
Mr Wilson continued: “The optimists say that we need new blood in the hope this would lead to change. This is not the case as since I left the Assembly 46 new members have taken their seats, almost half the Assembly, and many of them young.
“They merely rubber stamp the discredited policies of the past. Unfortunately there has been no improvement and relations and the workings of the Assembly have actually become worse. Bring back the Chuckle Brothers.
“We do not need to change the personnel but change the parties and their policies. The new blood are clones of their predecessors steeped in the same dogma and prejudices.”
Mr Wilson was mayor of North Down in 1993/4 and Mrs Wilson was mayor a decade later.