In a shock move over the bank holiday weekend, one of Mid Ulster's longest serving councillors has resigned from the party to represent his electorate as an independent.
In a letter about his decision, Cllr Tony Quinn said after "long and measured consideration" he came to the conclusion that: "It is becoming more and more difficult to serve as a credible councillor within a political system that is viewed by the majority of the community as self-seeking and untrustworthy."
Citing divisions between the current parties, he said his priority has always been the needs of the community, adding: "The greatest need for the community at the moment I believe is credible and trustworthy politics that unites and not divides."
Here is councillor Quinn's resignation letter in full:
It is with a long and measured consideration that I compose this letter and resign from the SDLP, a political party that I have belonged to for over 12 years.
A political party that I have served in as an elected representative for my local community and helped to bring about a better quality of life for my constituents.
It is however becoming more and more difficult to serve as a credible Councillor within a political system that is viewed by the majority of the community as self-seeking and untrustworthy. Indeed, it is widely felt that unity of the North is as distant an ideology as unity of the whole island.
My priority as an elected representative has always been the needs of my local community, and the greatest need for the community at the moment I believe is credible and trustworthy politics that unites and not divides.
Whether we accept it or not, election after election the northern political parties are being viewed as contributing causes in the division of our communities and so I feel strongly that as an independent I can offer genuine representation across the sectarian divide.
I would like to thank those within the SDLP leadership and the party members both past and present who I have known and respected and wish them all the best in the future.
Cllr Tony Quinn