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The BBC's David Eades
"John Hume has long being one of the most influential figures in Northern Ireland's politics"
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SDLP Leader John Hume:
"I have every confidence in the SDLP in the assembly and in the new institutions"
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Wednesday, 30 August, 2000, 17:29 GMT 18:29 UK
Hume to quit NI Assembly
John Hume will leave assembly in near future
John Hume will leave assembly in near future
The leader of the nationalist Social Democratic and Labour Party, John Hume, has confirmed he is to resign from the Northern Ireland Assembly.

In a statement released to the BBC, Mr Hume, 63, said that for health reasons he had decided it was necessary to cut his workload.

Mr Hume, who is also an MP and an MEP, said this would allow him to concentrate on his parliamentary duties at Westminster.

The senior politician, who is internationally renowned for his role as a peacemaker in Northern Ireland, has not said when he will vacate his seat as an assembly member for Foyle in Londonderry.

But one possibility is that it will be about the time of the party's annual conference in the autumn.

He said: "I have been heavily overloaded with work in recent times.

"I have had health problems and I have had to take serious consideration of it.

"As a result of that I have decided to resign in the near future my assembly seat and to concentrate with my parliamentary work, particularly my European work."

Gerry Adams: Ground-breaking talks with John Hume
Gerry Adams: Ground-breaking talks with John Hume
Mr Hume has played a huge role in politics in the province for more than 30 years. The IRA ceasefire in 1994 happened after his talks with Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams.

But his huge workload has taken a toll on his health.

In August 1999, Mr Hume was rushed to hospital while attending a conference in the Austrian resort of Alpbach.

He underwent emergency bowel surgery which meant a period of recuperation.

Mr Hume raised the issue of his role in the assembly with party colleagues at a group meeting in Stormont on Tuesday.

By-election option

According to senior members of the SDLP, it was clear that he had only intended to stay in the assembly until it was well established.

Under a substitute system, his seat could be taken by party colleague Annie Courtney, who is a local councillor.

But the final decision will rest with Northern Ireland Secretary Peter Mandelson who could opt for a by-election.

Mr Hume topped the poll in the Foyle constituency in the 1998 assembly elections with 12,581 votes.

The SDLP leader also comfortably topped the poll in the 1997 General Election in the constituency with 25,109 votes.

He has been Foyle's MP since the constituency was created in 1983 and a member of the European Parliament since 1979.

He received the Nobel Prize jointly last year with Ulster Unionist leader and Stormont First Minister David Trimble.

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31 Aug 99 | Northern Ireland
Hume 'could miss review'
30 Aug 00 | Northern Ireland
John Hume: Respected peacemaker
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