Ulster Unionist leader, Mike Nesbitt MLA, has thanked Michael McGimpsey MLA for his dedication and service to his constituents and the Ulster Unionist Party, following his decision to step down from the Northern Ireland Assembly at the next election.
Mike Nesbitt said:
“Michael McGimpsey`s political career is too long to be defined by one chapter. He has been involved at all levels of the Ulster Unionist Party for 53 years and has been present at many significant milestones in the political life of Northern Ireland.
“Five years on from Michael being the Health Minister, his stance on health service funding has been entirely vindicated. Despite the verbal brickbats, he remained focussed and got on with the job. While others were attempting to exploit the Health Service for political advantage, Michael was concentrating on trying to deliver a world class medical service with limited resources. Viewed with the advantage of time many people, even former detractors, have finally come to the conclusion that Michael McGimpsey was right.
“He was never one to shirk a challenge. He took on the Irish government through the courts in the eighties with his brother Chris over the Republic`s territorial claim on Northern Ireland, and wasn`t afraid to stand up and be counted in campaigning for an end to violence as part of the Peace Train organisation when the terrorist campaign was in full operation. Michael was first elected to Belfast City Council in 1993 and successfully re-elected three times after that. He is one of a small number of remaining MLAs from the original intake of 1998 when the fledgling Northern Ireland Assembly was established. He took up the reins of ministerial office and played a key role as part of the Ulster Unionist team through many different talks processes.
“On behalf of the Ulster Unionist Party, I thank him for his dedication and service to his constituents and the Party.”