Scotland politics

Presiding Officer Tricia Marwick to step down as MSP

Tricia Marwick in the chamber of the Scottish Parliament Image copyright Scottish Parliament
Image caption Tricia Marwick said she was proud of what she achieved as presiding officer since 2011

Holyrood's presiding officer has announced she will step down as an MSP at next year's Scottish election.

Tricia Marwick, who is the only woman to have held the position, said May 2016 would be the "right time" to leave frontline politics.

She said it had been an "honour" to serve as presiding officer since 2011 and was proud of the changes she had made to Holyrood business.

Mrs Marwick was elected as an SNP MSP in the first Holyrood poll in 1999.

She became presiding officer after the 2011 election, taking over from Alex Fergusson.

Mrs Marwick, the MSP for Mid Fife and Glenrothes, said: "It is possible that the next parliamentary session will last for five years and, if so, I will be 67 when that session ends.

"I have been an MSP since 1999 and I am convinced this is the right time for me to leave the parliament and frontline politics."

'Blazing a trail'

She added: "When I was diagnosed with bowel cancer in 2013 it made me realise I wasn't invincible. The sad loss this session of four MSPs from the 1999 intake has affected me deeply.

"My health is good and all my tests show that I remain clear of cancer.

"However, my family have had to make many sacrifices over the years and I want to ensure that I can spend more time with them, particularly my two grandchildren."

But she said: "I don't intend to retire completely and hope I can continue to make some contribution to public life in Scotland."

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon paid tribute to Mrs Marwick for becoming the parliament's first female presiding officer and "blazing a trail for other women to follow".

Ms Sturgeon said: "She has also introduced a number of important and welcome reforms to procedures in Holyrood - giving a greater voice to backbenchers within parliament and making proceedings more open and accessible to the public.

"She will certainly be missed by all the MSPs and staff within parliament and I wish her the very best in her retirement.

"I know she'll be looking forward to spending more time with her family but I have no doubt that she will continue to play a role in public life in Scotland."

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie said Mrs Marwick's "kindness and her firmness marked her out as a great presiding officer".

He added: "Tricia Marwick will be known as a reforming presiding officer. She has provided voices for the backbenchers in the first majority government. She raised the stature of the parliament."

Scottish Labour's acting leader Kezia Dugdale said: "A working class woman made it to the top and she's a first class role model for women across the land who want to break down barriers and the established order.

"While she'll leave parliament, I've no doubt that she'll never be far from public life."

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