Northern Ireland

Alliance MLA Patricia O'Lynn to quit North Antrim seat just nine months after ousting DUP's Mervyn Storey

Alliance Party leader Naomi Long (left) with Patricia O'Lynn at last May's election count. Picture by Jonathan McCambridge/PA Wire
Alliance Party leader Naomi Long (left) with Patricia O'Lynn at last May's election count. Picture by Jonathan McCambridge/PA Wire

ONE of the new generation of Alliance MLAs is quitting politics nine months after being elected to the assembly.

Patricia O'Lynn, who made a historic breakthrough for the party by securing a seat in North Antrim last May, is due to take up a new role at Queen's University Belfast.

She was the first woman elected in the unionist-dominated constituency, edging out former DUP Stormont minister Mervyn Storey.

Ms O'Lynn, who lives in north Belfast, was one nine new Alliance MLAs elected last year in a poll that saw the party more than double its Stormont tally with 17 seats.

Her departure comes less than a fortnight ahead of Alliance annual conference, where last year the North Antrim MLA characterised her constituency's representatives as "pale, stale, privileged men".

The 33-year-old former Ballymena councillor and Westminster candidate, who holds a PhD from Queen's, will officially resign from the assembly at the end of next month, leaving Alliance seven days to co-opt her replacement.

Announcing her resignation in a statement from the Alliance Party, she said her "only regret" was being unable to serve the people of North Antrim in the assembly due to continued boycott of the institutions by the DUP.

Ms O'Lynn, who served for six months as an adviser to the then justice minister Naomi Long, described the political impasse around the protocol as "frustrating".

“Nevertheless, it has been a privilege and I will continue representing my constituents fully while I remain in the role," she said.

"I thank every person who voted for me and for Alliance locally in previous years and assure them they will continue to be represented by my successor."

The departing MLA paid tribute to her party colleagues, highlighting an "exciting amount of talent emerging through the North Antrim Alliance Association, which continues to grow in numbers".

“The party continues to have my full support and I look forward to supporting whoever succeeds me as MLA," he said.

Mrs Long said she was sad to see Ms O’Lynn quitting

"It is undoubtedly a difficult and uncertain time for many in politics due to the ongoing impasse," the Alliance leader said.

"Patricia will be hugely missed but I am confident Alliance will continue to build on its recent superb results across North Antrim and on the sterling work Patricia has carried out as an advocate for a united community there."