Northern Ireland

Patrick Brown tells of the ‘real’ reasons for his decision to step down as Alliance MLA

The south Down representative said a Stormont standards watchdog probe had ‘no bearing’ on his resignation

Alliance MLA Patrick Brown has resigned
Patrick Brown resigned as an Alliance MLA earlier this week (Liam McBurney/PA)

Alliance Party member Patrick Brown has spoken about the “real” reasons for his decision to step down as MLA, saying he was “struggling” in the role but maintained a Stormont standards watchdog probe had “no bearing” on his resignation.

In a post on social media on Thursday, the South Down representative said he “wanted to take the time” following his resignation to state “my reasons for doing so”.

He also revealed in the post that he had recently been diagnosed with ADHD.

It comes after Mr Brown announced on Tuesday that he was stepping down with immediate effect for “personal reasons”.

The Irish News revealed on Thursday that Mr Brown was facing a probe by Stormont’s standards commissioner over a complaint regarding his conduct towards an integrated school in his constituency.

It feels strange to write this status as a 'private citizen' after almost a decade in politics, but I wanted to take the...

Posted by Patrick Brown on Thursday 25 April 2024

The Standards and Privileges committee was due to hear testimony on Wednesday.

The complaint is understood to have centred on questions asked by Mr Brown in his position as an MLA in relation of the governance of schools.

But in a post on Facebook on Thursday, Mr Brown said the probe by the standards watchdog had “no bearing” on his decision to resign.

He said that last year a school made a complaint about him to the Assembly, which he said was a “counter-complaint in direct response to a complaint I made to them on behalf of numerous constituents who had raised incredibly serious concerns with me about the governance and ethos of the school”.

“I consider this complaint to be vexatious and an attempt to silence someone speaking out about these serious issues, and I maintain that I did absolutely nothing wrong in pursuing it,” he wrote.

“However, despite the speculation, this had no bearing on my reasons for resigning, with the timing of my resignation more to do with my new job and finding the right time to inform staff and colleagues.

“I would rather not have been forced into a position to discuss what should be a private process, however media speculation has forced my hand and I feel it’s important to set the record straight.”

Patrick Brown with Alliance party leader Naomi Long at an election count in Belfast in 2022
Patrick Brown with Alliance party leader Naomi Long at an election count in Belfast in 2022 (Liam McBurney/PA)

Addressing his recent “diagnosis for adult ADHD”, he said it was “something I’ve always suspected I had.”

“Frankly the pressures of being in full-time politics combined with a neuro-diverse brain, and a typical male reluctance to shut down rather than discuss how I was feeling, was a fairly potent mix for my wellbeing,” he said.

Mr Brown also said he had recently accepted a new job offer “working in a field more aligned with my academic background”.

He added that he was “looking forward to some downtime and privacy to process the huge decision that is leaving politics”.