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Occupation: Campaigns Officer and Belfast City councillor

Age: 31

E-Mail address:

Place of Birth: Galway

Where you live: Belfast

First Job: Paper round

What it taught me: My early morning paper round in the streets off the Lisburn Road at the age of ten or eleven wasn’t bad groundwork for SDLP activism around the same streets many years later. I never did get much better at early mornings though. In my later teens I worked in a restaurant on the Lisburn Road, one of the businesses bringing some normality and a bit of life to evenings and weekends in Belfast in the late nineties. I learned to think on my feet, to deal with all manner of people, and got some understanding of the mechanics of running a small business

Family/Status: Married

Name of spouse and children: Married to Donal, baby daughter, Eimear

Best advice anyone ever gave you: “Do your homework!”. My parents have been saying this to me on and off over a 20 year period, and with quite a bit of exasperation at times, first when I was at Rathmore, I ignored it. Since I was elected a councillor I’ve had the same advice again about being prepared for meetings, boning up on the issues, getting to know constituents and treating everyone with courtesy and respect. This time, I know it’s sound advice

Best advice you could give someone starting out:

I honestly don’t feel that I’m far enough down the road to give anyone else words of wisdom. Maybe I would say “watch my mistakes and try not to repeat them” but I have a feeling that people have to make their own mistakes in order to learn! Beyond that, get involved in things, keep active and enjoy what you do

Though born in the Conamara Gaeltacht, Claire has lived in South Belfast since the age of three and was elected to represent the Balmoral ward in Belfast City Council in May 2011. She sits on the Strategic Policy & Resources and Town Planning committees as well as the Historic Centenaries Working group. She is committed to the core principles of social democracy – social solidarity and encouraging enterprise in a shared and pluralist society – and to the SDLP values of partnership and respect. She is an active environmentalist and is involved with local groups working to improve green infrastructure, promote renewable energy and improve sustainable transport.

Claire’s ‘day job’ is with an international development agency. She has worked in Zambia, Bangladesh and Haiti, supporting innovative community projects that strengthen the economy and public services.

Claire previously worked at BBC Technology and for Comic Relief. She is also the SDLP’s International Secretary, developing the party’s policy on European and international affairs and maintaining contact with sister parties.

The last year has been a busy one for Claire; getting married, getting elected, finally passing her driving test, completing an honours degree in International Relations from the Open University and, best of all, giving birth to Eimear at Christmas.

Gach beannú ar an leanbh!