‘David is a great mentor to me’

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Coleraine’s youngest ever Coleraine councillor says she is ‘honoured’ to be taking David MccClarty’s seat in Coleraine Borough Council.

Claire Sugden was born and raised in Coleraine.

She’s a former pupil of Killowen Primary School, a school which David McClarty also attended, and Coleraine High School.

An intelligent and modest young woman, Claire admits that David will be a hard act to follow.

“I am truly thankful that David has entrusted me with his seat, a seat he has held for 24 years.

“He has become a great friend to me.”

Claire got an insight into political life after taking up work experience in David’s Coleraine constituency office. Two degrees in politics and five years as a Research and Constituency Officer for the East Londonderry MLA has opened her eyes to the problems experienced by others, and she’s keen to get started in her new role. Many will know Claire from the pharmacy in Asda

“I have no doubt that it will be a difficult role, but David is a great mentor to me. His values and integrity are something that I admire and aspire towards.

“There is no better man in Northern Ireland politics. He is a hard act to follow, however through his continued guidance I will do my best for the people of Coleraine.”

Raised in Greenmount, Claire is the youngest daughter of Arthur and Elizabeth Sugden. Claire’s mother and David actually went to primary school together.

“I want to represent everyone, as a young female voice,” told Claire.

“I really think that there is an opening for an independent voice - I’ll be standing up for what is best for the ratepayers of Coleraine.”

Through her job as a Constituency Officer, Claire has already proved her worth, helping people with DLA issues.

“I see myself in a advocacy role - I will fight tooth and nail for people who are deserving. People just don’t realise the help that there is out there, and I really want to change this.”

So what words of advice does David have for his successor: “Firstly Claire and I work as a team - by supporting Claire you will be supporting me.

“I trust her deeply, and I am very confident in her ability to represent the people of Coleraine. She’s an intelligent young woman, who cares deeply about the our community - something that we both share. Her support and loyalty in the past five years working for me and throughout my transition to an independent representative has been unwavering and indispensable to my success.

“We are an independent team - we will work together providing unique independent representation for the people of Coleraine and East Londonderry.”