O’Dowd to step down as Education Minister

Education Minister John O'Dowd.'Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker

Education Minister John O'Dowd.'Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker

Sinn Fein MLA John O’Dowd is to step down as Education Minister.

The Upper Bann representative confirmed to the BBC that he will be stepping down after the assembly elections in May.

Mr O’Dowd has held the office since May 2011, making him the longest serving education minister currently in post in the UK.

He has been an assembly member for Upper Bann since 2003 and will run for re-election as an MLA with Catherine Seeley as his running partner.

“My party rotates its ministers at the start of each new mandate - a policy I fully support,” he told the BBC.

“I have greatly enjoyed my time as minister for education and, if re-elected to the assembly, I look forward to a new challenge.”

As minister, Mr O’Dowd has been in charge of one of the executive’s largest departments, with an annual budget of around £1.9 billion.

Sinn Féin MLAs have held the education ministry since the establishment of the Northern Ireland Assembly following the Good Friday Agreement.