Sinn Fein's Megan Fearon and Mairtin O'Muilleoir step down from assembly

A former Sinn Fein finance minister in the Stormont Executive is to step down from the Assembly.


South Belfast MLA Mairtin O Muilleoir and his colleague Megan Fearon, who represents Newry and Armagh, are to leave frontline politics.

A number of Assembly members have left public life during the near three-year powersharing hiatus.

Mr O Muilleoir was a keen advocate of the Irish language and west Belfast over decades in public office on Belfast City Council and at Stormont.

The successful businessman said he would remain a determined advocate for a better Belfast.

"It has been the greatest privilege of my life to represent the people of South and West Belfast for Sinn Fein in both City Hall and Stormont.

"But it is now time for me to hand over to a representative of a newer generation of republican activists."

One of his last acts as finance minister was to order the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) public inquiry, which is due to report soon on the handling of the failed green energy scheme.

He is also a former Lord Mayor of Belfast.

In 2012 at the age of 20, Dromintee born Ms Fearon was selected to represent Sinn Fein in the Assembly, becoming the youngest public representative in Ireland.

She served as junior minister to the late Martin McGuinness in Stormont's Executive Office.

She said: "Over the years this role has allowed me to meet the most inspiring people, make friends for life and have many unforgettable experiences.

"Working towards a new Ireland based on fairness and equality is a huge part of who I am. I will always be an activist, but my time in electoral politics has ended.

"I am excited to begin a new chapter in life and I want to thank everyone who has been part of this journey."

Party president Mary Lou McDonald paid tribute to the pair.

"Both were excellent MLAs, providing first class representation in their constituencies and also on the Executive where both served with distinction as ministers.

"I have known both for many years and they are hardworking and dedicated representatives, committed to improving the quality of life for all."