DUP MLA dedicates election to Irish republican gran

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David McIlveen
Image caption,
David McIlveen paid tribute to his republican grandmother

A new DUP assembly member has dedicated his election victory to an Irish republican - his own grandmother.

David McIlveen used his maiden speech in the assembly on Tuesday to pay tribute to his late grandmother Evelyn McIlveen, who was born in County Cavan in 1920.

"Although she longed for the reunification of Ireland she taught me by her arguments just what an erroneous path that was and I'm very glad that I can be found on this side of the house," he said.

"I dedicate this election of mine to someone who taught me what political debate was all about."

Mr McIlveen, who was elected to North Antrim, is the son of the Free Presbyterian minister David McIlveen.

He said his political journey goes right back to his father's mother who longed for a united Ireland.

"She inspired me greatly. My grandmother was born in a little village called Bailieborough in 1920 which means, technically speaking, that she was born in the United Kingdom.

"She was Presbyterian by birth and an Irish woman through and through. She really taught me a lot about political debate on two different sides of the house," he said.

Mr McIlveen said his grandmother was "broadly speaking" supportive of his decision to join the DUP.

"She had a very open mind, a strong will and was an extremely moral woman. When something was right she said it was right and when something was wrong she would say it was wrong," he said.

"She was very much the grandmother and was someone I have a huge amount of respect for. She passed away last year and is sorely missed.

"I'm only sorry she didn't get the chance to see me make my maiden speech."