DUP MP and MLA Iris Robinson, wife of Northern Ireland First Minister Peter Robinson, is to quit politics after admitting she has suffered serious bouts of depression.
In a statement tonight, she said the stress and strain of public life came at a cost and her health had suffered.
Mrs Robinson, 60, has been MP for the Strangford constituency since 2001.
Her husband has represented East Belfast since 1979.
'As many people will be aware, I have recently tried to return to the full-time work of representing my constituents following my latest period of illness. Over the years, I have undergone a long series of operations and though I have never talked about it publicly, I have, against this background, also battled against serious bouts of depression.
'Only those who have faced similar challenges in life will know the ordeal faced by those who are profoundly depressed and the distress caused to those around them as they grapple with personality changing illness.'
Mrs Robinson is a former chairperson of the health committee at the Northern Ireland Assembly. Her decision to leave office followed talks with her husband over Christmas.
'One in four of the population struggle with mental illnesses at one level or another yet few talk about it openly. When I am better able to do so, I want to say more about this period of my life.
'The stress and strain of public life comes at a cost and my health has suffered.'