Mark Durkan is set to resign as Leader of the Social Democratic and Labor Party (SDLP) after the next Westminister election.

Durkan, who has been at the helm of the SDLP since he took over from John Hume in 2001, made the announcement while doing an interview with BBC Northern Ireland.

Durkan had long said that he did not wish to lead the part after his 50th birthday, which comes around on June 26, 2010.

"My position is that if I am elected again to Westminster as MP for Foyle I will be stepping down from the Assembly. I've said that openly on the record because I don't believe that you can sustain dual mandates any longer, " Durkan told the BBC.

Many politicians in Northern Ireland are elected to both the Northern Ireland Assembly and Westminster, and Durkan’s own party released a statement echoing his thoughts that that the workload is not feasible .

“The SDLP has strongly advocated an end to the dual mandate.

“Mark Durkan has said both publicly and privately that if he is elected again as MP for Foyle he would be stepping down from the Assembly."
The statement went on to outline a new strategy for the party:

“As the SDLP moves to celebrate its 40th anniversary next year, the party intends to bring forward a number of new faces for the Westminster election and with an eye to local government and Assembly elections in 2011.
“The change in leadership of the party will be part of this transition
“The process of change in the party leadership will now be addressed in a sensible and orderly fashion.
“The party remain committed to devolution and will continue to challenge the status quo by bringing forward imaginative and innovative proposals on the issues that matter most to the people of the North namely the economy, in education and for a shared future.”