Seamus Close to leave politics

The former deputy leader of the non-sectarian Alliance Party in the North is to leave politics.

The former deputy leader of the non-sectarian Alliance Party in the North is to leave politics.

A disillusioned Seamus Close, 59, who was heavily involved in the negotiations leading up to the signing of the 1998 Good Friday peace agreement, said today that he would not be contesting any further elections.

Mr Close, a councillor in his home city of Lisburn, Co Antrim, since 1973, is a member of the suspended Northern Ireland Assembly at Stormont.

The father of four had a reputation as a fierce champion of the taxpayer with outspoken attacks on all forms of unaccountability and maladministration. He was a member of the assembly's public accounts committee.

Mr Close said he had been considering his political future for a long time after the suspension of the Stormont administration four years ago.

The Good Friday Agreement, he said, had been the ultimate political compromise, but with the British and Irish governments pushing for a new settlement, the so-called St Andrews Agreement put forward last month was a fudge attempting to bring the extremes together in an unnatural arrangement.

Mr Close said: "What we are moving towards is not the sharing of power, it is the carving up of power. There is a distinct difference."

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