Justice Minister Claire Sugden is an Independent MLA representing the East Londonderry constituency. Claire is the only Independent member of the Northern Ireland Assembly and the first Independent to hold Ministerial office. At 29 she is the youngest Minister in the Executive with Departmental responsibility.
Claire is a graduate of Queen’s University Belfast where she studied for a BA in Politics and a MA in Irish Politics. Before becoming a MLA, Claire was studying for a second Masters in Political Lobbying and Public Affairs at Ulster University. She is currently on a leave of absence.
Claire is an alumnus of the Washington Ireland Program when she worked within the US government in the Department of Health and Human Services in 2010. She managed the Program in 2012.
In May 2014 Claire was appointed as a MLA for East Londonderry following the passing of David McClarty MLA. Claire was David’s Parliamentary Assistant for 6 years. Claire also served on Coleraine Borough Council for 2 years during this time
Claire is a passionate advocate for her constituents and works closely with many community and voluntary sector groups locally. She is particularly concerned with helping vulnerable people and those with learning disabilities.
Her priorities in the Department of Justice include tackling domestic violence, rural crime and crimes against the elderly. She also wants to reduce the numbers of young people and people with mental health issues coming into contact with the criminal justice system.