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South Down MLA Caitríona Ruane will not stand for re-election to Assembly

Sinn Féin South Down MLA Caitríona Ruane has said she will not be standing for re-election to the Assembly. Picture by Mal McCann

FORMER education minister Caitríona Ruane has announced she will not be seeking re-election to the assembly.

The Sinn Féin MLA said on Sunday night that she would not be putting her name forward to run in South Down.

In last May's election, she polled around 10 per cent of first preference votes, and was elected on the seventh count, behind party colleague and infrastructure minister Chris Hazzard.

On Sunday night Sinn Féin councillor Sinead Ennis was nominated alongside Mr Hazzard to stand for election in the constituency, the party said on Twitter.

Ms Ruane has said she will work as an election agent for Sinn Féin in the election.

Each constituency will lose one MLA at the upcoming election due to a reduction in the total number of elected representatives at Stormont from 108 to 90. 

Originally from Co Mayo, Ms Ruane was first elected to the assembly in November 2003 and has been the principal deputy speaker since May.

As education minister from 2007 to 2011, Ms Ruane stood over a decision by her predecessor Martin McGuinness to abolish the 11-plus.

Despite fierce opposition from several quarters, and many grammar schools pushing ahead with their own entrance exams, Ms Ruane brought an end to the format in 2008.

Ms Ruane said it had been "an honour and privilege" to represent South Down for 14 years.

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