Northern Ireland

Claire Sugden: Who is NI's new justice minister?

Claire Sugden has gone from being a parliamentary assistant to justice minister in just two years
Image caption Claire Sugden has gone from being a parliamentary assistant to justice minister in just two years

Claire Sugden is used to being the youngest - she grew up in Coleraine with four older siblings - three sisters and a brother.

Now the 29-year-old has become one of the youngest people in Northern Ireland to hold a ministerial portfolio.

She has only been an MLA for two years. So what is her background?

In 2008, after graduating from Queen's University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in politics, Ms Sugden became an intern at the Office of the First Minister and Deputy First Minister.

She subsequently took up an internship with the US Department of Health on the Washington/Ireland Program.

'Huge challenge'

In 2011, the former Coleraine High School pupil managed the late MLA David McClarty's election campaign when he stood as an independent in East Londonderry.

She was co-opted onto Coleraine Borough Council in 2013 after Mr McClarty resigned his seat.

Ms Sugden was Mr McClarty's parliamentary assistant for five years and he nominated her to take up his East Londonderry post when he became ill.

After he died in April 2014, she became one of the youngest MLAs at Stormont when she took the vacated seat.

Now living in Castlerock, the former prison officer's daughter has assumed ultimate responsibility for the Prison Service.

The new justice minister has, in her own words, a "huge challenge" ahead of her, but her colleagues in the executive have given her a clear vote of confidence on her first day in the role.