Northern Ireland

Mark Durkan, MP

Former Deputy First Minister
Derry, Northern Ireland

Mark first became involved in national politics in 1981 when he became a member of the Social Democratic and Labour Party. In 1984 he went to work for John Hume as his Westminster Assistant. He also became a key figure in organising by-election campaigns for Seamus Mallon and Eddie McGrady in the 1980s. In 1990 Durkan became chairperson of the SDLP, a position he served in until 1995. He was a key member of the party’s negotiating team in the run up to the Good Friday Agreement. Following the Agreement he was elected to the Northern Ireland Assembly in 1998, and became a member of the Northern Ireland Executive as Minister for Finance and Personnel. He served in that position until 2001 when he replaced Seamus Mallon as deputy First Minister. He was also elected Leader of the SDLP the same year.

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RT Hon. Jeffrey Donaldson, MP

MP for Lagan Valley
Kilkeel, Northern Ireland

Mr Donaldson is a Northern Irish politician and Member of Parliament for Lagan Valley representing the Democratic Unionist Party. He entered politics following the murder of two of his cousins by the IRA in 1970 and 1985 respectively, stating in Richard English’s book, Armed Struggle: ‘A big part of the motivation for me in becoming actively involved in politics was the deep sense of injustice that I felt had been perpetrated against my people and specifically against my family and I wanted to do something about that. And that’s why, at the age of 18, I did two things, I joined the Ulster Defence Regiment and I joined the Ulster Unionist Party, because I wanted to pursue, through the forces of the state and the forces of law and order, the IRA and to oppose their campaign’.

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Margaret Ritchie, MP

MP for South Down
Downpatrick, Northern Ireland

Margaret Ritchie’s political career began in 1985 when she was elected to Down District Council representing the Rowallane Area. Later she was appointed Parliamentary Assistant and Political Researcher to the MP for South Down, Eddie McGrady. Margaret was subsequently elected to Down District Council in successive elections 1985 and to the Northern Ireland Assembly in 2003 and again in 2007. Margaret resigned her council seat in June 2009. While this move was tinged with sadness, Ms. Ritchie will continue to work and deliver for the people in her Rowallane district council electoral constituency. In May 2010 Margaret Ritchie was elected was MP for South Down, topping the poll with 20,648 votes.

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Bill Neely

BAFTA Winning Journalist
Belfast, Northern Ireland

Bill Neely is an International Editor for ITV News, the news service produced by ITN for British commercial broadcaster ITV. He has been a broadcaster since 1981. Neely was appointed to his current post in 2002 and reports from all over the globe. His reports also appear regularly on NBC News, CNN and PBS, the public television broadcaster in the United States, as well as on channels in Australia and New Zealand. Most recently, he has been reporting regularly on the revolution in Syria.

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Michael Copeland, MLA

MLA for East Belfast
Belfast, Northern Ireland

Alderman Michael Copeland MLA is a Ulster Unionist politician from Northern Ireland. After graduating from Royal Military Academy Sandhurst he became a lieutenant of the Ulster Defence Regiment, HM Armed Forces. First elected as councillor to Castlereagh Borough Council in 2001, Michael was elected Deputy Mayor of the borough a year later. After winning the East Belfast UUP nomination for the 2003 Assembly Election he was elected to the Northern Ireland Assembly. Copeland remains an extremely active figure in politics within Northern Ireland: maintaining a keen interest in domestic, socio-economic and housing problems. He was re-elected to the Northern Ireland Assembly as MLA for East Belfast in the Assembly Elections in May 2011

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Chris Lyttle, MLA

MLA for East Belfast
Belfast, Northern Ireland

Chris Lyttle is an Alliance Party position from Northern Ireland. He succeeded Naomi Long MP as Alliance Party MLA for East Belfast on July 5 2010 and was elected to serve the constituency for another term on May 7 2011. He is also a member of the Assembly Working Groups on Autism, Learning Disability and International Development. Chris was born and raised in East Belfast and believes in providing the people of this great constituency with the standard of leadership and representation they deserve. Chris was on our sister program, Washington Ireland in 2002 and was profoundly influenced by the story of Dr Martin Luther King.

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Dominic Bradley, MLA

MLA for Newry and Armagh
Bessbrook, Northern Ireland

Dominic Bradley is an Irish politician and currently a Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) member of the Northern Ireland Assembly for Newry and Armagh. His first taste of politics was as a fifteen year old participant in Civil Rights’ marches in Newry campaigning peacefully for ‘One Man One Vote’; for fair-play in housing allocation, for equal rights for all. Subsequently, after the formation of the SDLP, his first experience of electioneering was on behalf of SDLP founder-member Paddy O’Hanlon in Stormont elections. Dominic has been a member of the SDLP for almost twenty years. During that time he acted successfully as Director of Elections for Seamus Mallon M.P. and for the Party in the Newry and Mourne Council area.

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Sammy Douglas, MLA

MLA for East Belfast
Belfast, Northern Ireland

Sammy Douglas is a Democratic Unionist Party politician who was elected to the Northern Ireland Assembly in 2011 for the Belfast East constituency. He lives in East Belfast and was formerly a self-employed, social and economic regeneration advisor to East Belfast Partnership as well as a former Community Advisor to First Minister Peter Robinson, MLA. For over twenty years, Sammy has been at the forefront of regeneration in the East Belfast area. He has extensive experience, much of it on a voluntary basis, of working at a local and area-wide level with community, voluntary and church groups.

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Pat Ramsey, MLA

MLA for Foyle
Derry, Northern Ireland

Pat Ramsey is a member of the Northern Ireland Assembly for Foyle. He was originally elected in 2003 and was re-elected in 2007 and 2011. He is the SDLP Chief Whip and the Spokesperson for Employment and Learning, serving on the DEL Commitee. Mr Ramsey served the people of Derry on Derry City Council for over 20 years, and served as Mayor in 1999. He is recognised champion of vulnerable people and serves on a number of All-Party Working Groups at Stormont.

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Basil McCrea, MLA

MLA for Lagan Valley
Donegal, Republic of Ireland

Born in Donegal in the Irish Republic, Basil McCrea is an Independent MLA representing Lagan Valley in the Northern Ireland Assembly. He was first educated at the Belfast Royal Academy before attaining a Chemical Engineering degree from the University of Birmingham. He later attained a degree in Advanced Computer Technology from the University of Ulster. He was elected in 2007 to the Northern Ireland Assembly and is currently chairman of the Committee for the Department for Education & Learning and also sits on the Committee for the Department of Justice; he is party spokesperson for both of these departments.

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Jonathan Craig, MLA

MLA for Lagan Valley
Lisburn, Northern Ireland

First elected in 2007, Jonathan Craig is a Northern Irish politician representing the constituency of Lagan Valley. A member of the Democratic Unionist Party, Mr Craig sits on the Policing Board, an organisation established to ensure for all the people of Northern Ireland an effective, efficient, impartial, representative and accountable police service which will secure the confidence of the whole community, by reducing crime and the fear of crime.

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Colum Eastwood, MLA

MLA for Foyle
Derry, Northern Ireland

Colum Eastwood is a SDLP politician from Northern Ireland who was elected to the NI Assembly in 2011. His venture into politics came when he was elected to Derry City Council in 2005, and elected for a one-year term as Mayor of Derry in June 2010. Aged 27, he was the youngest mayor of the city to date. As well as championing Derry as City of Culture, Colum has stood courageously against dissident violence. He is a long-time supporter of the Bloody Sunday families. He is also a passionate campaigner for community facilities, infrastructure and jobs for our young people.

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David McClarty, MLA

MLA for East Londonderry
Coleraine, Northern Ireland

Until January 1, 2011 David McClarty was an Ulster Unionist Party member of the Northern Ireland Assembly (1998–present) for East Londonderry and was the Ulster Unionist Party’s chief whip at the Assembly but is now an independent. On 8 May 2007 he was elected as one of the three Deputy Speakers of the Assembly. McClarty served on the Enterprise, Trade and Investment Committee and the Environment Committee in the Assembly from 1998 to 2002.

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Sean Rogers, MLA

MLA for South Down
South Down, Northern Ireland

Husband and father of five grown up children, 58 year old Mourne man Sean Rogers, is bringing a wealth of life experience with him to the new role, if he is elected as South Down’s MLA. Having battled with Cancer since he was diagnosed back in 2003, he believes he is best equipped in understanding the importance of good health care on your doorstep. Underlining the fundamental role good health care played in his return to health, Mr Rogers said: That’s why I’m behind securing a future for Downe Hospital. If it wasn’t for the excellent care I received from the health professionals close to where I live, I wouldn’t be where I am today.

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Tom Elliott, MLA

MLA Fermanagh & South Tyrone
Fermanagh, Northern Ireland

Tom Elliott is a Northern Irish Ulster Unionist MLA, a former leader of the Ulster Unionist Party and a former UDR soldier. Educated at Ballinamallard Primary School and Duke of Westminster High School, Ballinamallard & Kesh, he also earned a College Certificate in Agriculture from the Enniskillen College of Agriculture. He was the election agent for James Cooper in 2001 Westminster campaign and in June of the same year was elected an Ulster Unionist Councillor on Fermanagh District Council representing Erne North. He was re-elected May 2005 but resigned to allow a Co-option in August 2010. In November 2003 he was elected as a member of the Northern Ireland Assembly representing Fermanagh & South Tyrone, a position to which he was re-elected in March 2007 and May 2011. In this role he served as Ulster Unionist Assembly spokesperson on Agriculture and Rural Affairs. Currently Vice Chair of the Agricultural Committee in Stormont and also sits as a member of the Committee of the Office of the First and deputy First Minister. He was elected as the 14th leader of the Ulster Unionist Party in 2010 but resigned in 2012

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Paul Givan, MLA

MLA for Lagan Valley
Lisburn, Northern Ireland

Paul Givan was born and brought up in Lisburn, educated at Pond Park Primary School, Laurelhill Community College, Lisburn Institute and the University of Ulster where he obtained a BA (Hons) Degree in Business Studies and completed an Advanced Diploma in Management Practice. At 23 years of age Paul was the youngest Councillor ever to be elected to Lisburn City Council in the 2005 elections. On the Council he has served as Vice-Chairman of the Leisure Services Committee for two years and two years as Chairman of the Corporate Services Committee. As the Chairman responsible for setting the rates Lisburn City Council fell to the 2nd lowest rates in Northern Ireland with increases below the level of inflation. He serves on the Board of Governors of Pond Park and Ballymacash Primary Schools.

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Sandra Overend, MLA

MLA for Mid Ulster
Stewartstown, Northern Ireland

Sandra Overend was raised in the heart of Mid-Ulster, having been born close to Stewartstown in East Tyrone and now lives with her husband of thirteen years and three children near Bellaghy in South Londonderry. She shares the same commitment and enthusiasm for the future of Ulster Unionism as her father, retired Assembly Member, Billy Armstrong MLA, whose office she managed from 1998 until her election to the Assembly in 2011. Sandra now sits on the Assembly & Executive Review Committee and the Committee for the Department for Education and Learning and is party spokesperson for children and young people.

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Jo-Anne Dobson, MLA

MLA for Upper Bann
Banbridge, Northern Ireland

Born and educated in Banbridge, Jo-Anne lives with her husband, John, and two boys, Elliott and Mark, in Waringstown. Jo-Anne is a committed Upper Bann MLA who takes a keen interest in local environmental and leisure issues and is currently leading a campaign to bring pre-school education to Waringstown. Jo-Anne attended Banbridge Academy, as did her son Elliott who is in the second year of an Engineering degree at Cambridge. Mark is a first year student at Greenmount Agricultural College and all take an active role on the family’s beef and cereal farm. Jo-Anne has been the voluntary press officer for the Northern Ireland Kidney Patients Association for three years and believes passionately in the promotion of organ donation. She was proud to co-ordinate the recent Anglo Beef Producers fundraising event, and takes an active role in the promotion of the Ulster Unionist Party at agricultural events such as the Balmoral Show. Next year, she will be involved in the co-ordination of the UK Transplant Games, to be held in Northern Ireland.

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Robin Swann, MLA

MLA for North Antrim
Ballymena, Northern Ireland

Robin Swann is a politician in Northern Ireland who was elected to the Northern Ireland Assembly in 2011. In 2012 he was appointed Ulster Unionist Chief Whip. He is North Antrim born and bred, educated locally, he lives in the constituency with his wife, Jennifer and baby daughter. He is currently North Antrim Constituency Chairman and he is party spokesman for Culture, Arts & Leisure. He is an active member of Kells & Connor Community Association and has served as a Board member of the Volunteer Development Agency in Northern Ireland. He has served as President and County Antrim Chairman of the Young Farmers’ Clubs of Ulster. He has chaired the YFCU’s National Executive and rural Affairs Committees and has been Chairman Rural Youth Europe organisation.

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Roy Beggs Jr., MLA

MLA for East Antrim
Glenoe, Northern Ireland

Roy Beggs Jr is currently an Ulster Unionist member of the Northern Ireland Assembly for East Antrim, which his father formerly represented in the Westminster Parliament. He is presently a member of Carrickfergus Borough Council, although he has recently announced that he is to stand down at the next Local Government election to give an opportunity to “capable younger members who are seeking selection” from the Carrickfergus Division of the UUP. Beggs is currently Deputy Chairman of the Agriculture Committee and is also Deputy Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee at Stormont. He left the Environment Committee in late 2010 to take up his current position on DARD. Beggs is known for his tireless constituency work in East Antrim and has links with many organisations in the area. He is the UUP spokesperson on Children’s Issues as well as Agriculture.

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John Dallat, MLA

MLA for East Londonderry
Kilrea, Northern Ireland

Mr John Dallet is a native of Kilrea and was educated at Our Lady of Lourdes Secondary School, Ballymoney, North West College of Further and Higher Education, The University of Ulster, University College Galway and Harvard University. Elected to the Northern Ireland Assembly in 1998 John Dallet sits on the Stormont Regional Development Committee for which he is party spokesperson. He is also a member of the Assembly Public Accounts committee and a former chair of the Assembly’s Audit Committee. He is in his second term as deputy speaker of the Northern Ireland Assembly.

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Alban Maginness, MLA

MLA for North Belfast
Belfast, Northern Ireland

Born in North Belfast on 9th July 1950 Alban Maginness was educated in St Malachy’s, Belfast and the University of Ulster at Coleraine. He read for the Northern Ireland Bar at Queen’s University Belfast, and was called to the Northern Ireland Bar Michaelmas in 1976 and the Bar of Ireland Michaelmas in 1984. In 2007 he completed a Masters in Human Rights Law from Queens University, Belfast.

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David McIlveen, MLA

MP for North Antrim
Ballymena, Northern Ireland

David McIlveen is a Democratic Unionist Party member of the Northern Ireland Assembly representing the Northn Antrim constituency. He is his party’s representative on the Employment and Learning Committee, as well as a political member on the Policing Board – an organisation to ensure for all the people of Northern Ireland the delivery of an effective, efficient, impartial, representative and accountable police service which will secure the confidence of the whole community by reducing crime and the fear of crime. He was elected in 2011 replacing his party leader and former First Minister, the Reverend Ian Paisley who was retiring.

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Thomas Buchanan, MLA

MLA for West Tyrone
Omagh, Northern Ireland

Thomas Buchanan, a native of Drumquin, has a wealth of experience having served for 15 years on Omagh District Council where he topped the poll on his debut. Thomas is one of the most highly respected members of Omagh District Council, and in his capacity as MLA has the privilege of representing the entire Unionist community in West Tyrone. A full-time political representative, he has worked tirelessly to serve the people of Strabane and Omagh District Council areas, helping individual constituents and community groups in dealing with a range of issues.

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