Claire Sugden paid tribute to the people of East Londonderry, outgoing MLAs Gregory Campbell and John Dallat, as well as her predecessor and mentor David McClarty yesterday in her final speech of the current Assembly Mandate.
Speaking, Ms Sugden said: “First and foremost, I pay tribute to all the people of East Londonderry. It has been my privilege to represent them in the House. After the loss of my predecessor and dear friend and mentor David McClarty in 2014, my constituents welcomed me into East Londonderry as their representative, and we have done fantastic work since. In my role as an MLA, I am most satisfied when I am serving my constituents, whether it be their individual needs or working with the community and voluntary groups that I have met over the past two years. It will be my privilege to continue to serve them when I am returned to the House in May. ”
2Mr Speaker, I want to pay tribute to your leadership of the House. The way that you have conducted yourself and the way that you have harboured a sense of respect in the House should be commended. You are a gentleman. You have treated me, as a Back-Bench Member and an independent of the House, with fairness and courtesy, and you have given me many opportunities. I sincerely wish you well in your retirement.”
“I want to thank all the MLAs of the House. A quality of a good politician is to build relationships. It is how we get things done, and it is certainly something that I have sought to do with every side of the House. I really appreciate that every Member has welcomed me and embraced me, and we have built up those good relationships, so that we have got work done. It has not necessarily been work reported in the news, but we have done work behind closed doors. Contrary to what a lot of people think, we do sometimes do something up here.”
“I give best wishes to all those who are not seeking re-election. In particular, I pay tribute to my constituency colleagues John Dallat MLA and Gregory Campbell MP/MLA, particularly Gregory Campbell. We have an awful lot of work to do in East Londonderry, and I look forward to working with him when I am returned as an MLA and he continues his work as an MP. ”
“I wish to pay tribute to the staff of the House. We have the craic. It makes the hour and a half journey coming up here much more enjoyable. Again, they have welcomed me. They are as much part of the fabric of this place as the Members and their staff, and that should be acknowledged.”
“Politics in Northern Ireland is changing. It is a generation since the Good Friday Agreement. That signals that we have to now embrace the new generation. Time will be a great healer in Northern Ireland — nothing else — and until the people who were involved in the Troubles are no longer involved in politics, I do not think that Northern Ireland will truly move on. The people who will remain here, maybe for the next five or 10 years, who were involved in the Troubles will pave the way for a new generation. That is important.”
“This mandate has not been perfect. It has actually been quite frustrating. I am a student of politics — many degrees and all that — but the one person whom I take a lot of my experience from taught me that politics is about people. We need to embrace that in the next mandate. Last year, when we saw Ministers going in and out of office, that was not respecting people. If I can encourage anything in the next mandate, it is that we start putting the people of Northern Ireland first.”