Scottish Parliament deputy presiding officer Linda Fabiani has announced plans to step down at next year’s Holyrood election.
Ms Fabiani, who will have served for more than 20 years by then, told her East Kilbride constituency association of her decision on Tuesday evening.
She said she feels “privileged” to have served in the Scottish Parliament but that, at her age, does not feel she can make another five-year commitment and is looking forward to spending more time with friends and family.
Ms Fabiani was elected as deputy presiding officer after the Scottish Parliament elections in 2016.
She said: “I’ve been so privileged to serve in Scotland’s democratically elected parliament since it was reconvened in 1999. By the next election I will have served for more than 20 years but I’ll be 65 in 2021 and I feel I cannot make another five-year commitment.
“There are many people in the SNP with great energy and commitment. I am happy to step aside and let others take up the challenge and to deliver independence.”
Reflecting on her political career, Ms Fabiani said: “It was a massive privilege to have helped bring about and then be appointed to serve in the first ever SNP government in what was a whirlwind period of change.
“As minister for Europe, external affairs and culture, my role was to promote Scotland both at home and overseas. That first period of SNP government was critical in raising Scotland’s confidence and showing we could take a different path.
“We consolidated trust in the Scottish Parliament and Scottish Government to represent Scotland’s interests, which continues to this day as we work our way through this dreadful pandemic.
“I have influenced policies that have a direct impact and I hope my long-term work on equal rights for all, justice for survivors of institutional abuse, a better deal for carers, and a fairer system for victims of domestic abuse has helped people across the country.”
She said her “big regret” is that Scotland did not achieve independence in the 2014 referendum but that she will never stop campaigning for it.
Ms Fabiani first stood as a candidate in the 1999 Scottish Parliament election.
From 1999 to 2011 she served three terms as a Regional MSP covering Central Scotland, which includes East Kilbride.
In 2011, she won the East Kilbride constituency seat from Labour and was returned again in 2016.
From 2007 to 2009 she served as minister for Europe, external affairs and culture in the first ever SNP government.
Following the report of the Calman Commission, she chaired the Scotland Bill Committee which saw more powers transfer to Holyrood through the Scotland Act 2012.