HOLYROOD’S Presiding Officer has announced she will be stepping down as an MSP at next year’s election.
Tricia Marwick, who is the first woman to have held the position, said May 2016 would be the “right time” for her to leave the Scottish Parliament and frontline politics.
She said it was an “honour” to have served as Presiding Officer, adding that she was proud of the changes she has made to Holyrood business.
While she said she was looking forward to spending more time with her family, Mrs Marwick said she hoped she could continue to make a contribution to public life.
Mrs Marwick was first elected as an SNP MSP in the first Holyrood elections in 1999 and became Presiding Officer after the 2011 election.
With Holyrood having a five-year parliamentary term following the 2011 vote, she will be the longest-serving presiding officer when she retires from the role.
She has introduced a number of reforms to parliamentary business, including the introduction of a dedicated slot for MSPs to question ministers on topical matters and changing the working week for MSPs so debates are held in the main chamber on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays.
Mrs Marwick, the MSP for Mid Fife and Glenrothes, said: “I have been active in politics since the mid-80s and for some of that time held down a full-time job, looked after my children as well as campaigning.
“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.”
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 stressed: “I don’t intend to retire completely and hope I can continue to make some contribution to public life in Scotland.”
Mrs Marwick added: “It is been the greatest privilege to represent the constituency I live in and where I have brought up my family.
“I want to thank my constituents and friends for their unstinting support over the years.
“I am proud of what we have achieved together and that I have been able to help many thousands of people.
“They can be assured that I will continue to represent them and their interests for the next 11 months.
“It is an honour to be the Presiding Officer of the Scottish Parliament. I never thought that when I became an MSP I would end up achieving that office.
“As the first woman Presiding Officer I hope that I have provided some inspiration to other women to follow in my footsteps.”
She continued: “To be the Presiding Officer during the referendum campaign was exciting and challenging, and I have never been prouder as the people of Scotland turned out in their millions to have their say on our constitutional future.
“I love being the Presiding Officer and I am proud of the reforms that I have already implemented, including the introduction of topical questions, the changes to our working week and taking the Parliament out of Edinburgh to towns the length and breadth of Scotland.
“More needs to be done but I am pleased to have started the debate around elected conveners and what I believe to be essential committee and wider parliamentary reform.
“I will continue to put my energies into the Parliament and my constituency until I step down next year.”