Born in Connemara, Galway, Claire has lived in South Belfast since the age of three and attended St. Bride’s Primary School followed by Rathmore. She has an Honours Degree in International Relations and a Masters in Law.
Prior to elected politics, Claire worked in international development, in a range policy and education roles, taking her to parts of the world such as Haiti, Zambia and Bangladesh. Her passion for international development and humanitarian affairs has endured and is a major inspiration to her political interests and activities.
Claire was first elected as a Councillor for Belfast City Council in 2011 for the Balmoral ward, having been subsequently re-elected in 2014. In 2015, she was co-opted into the Northern Ireland Assembly as an MLA, and re-elected in 2016 and 2018.
In Council, she brought the motion that led to Belfast becoming the first Living Wage council in Northern Ireland – paying a fair wage to all employees – and restricted use of Zero Hour Contracts. She also successfully introduced measures to combat the rise of predatory payday lending. She fought to amend Belfast City Council procurement policies to allow exclusion of companies engaged in tax evasion.
At the Assembly, Claire was the first MLA to successfully propose and secure a majority for a motion on Equal Marriage. Continuing her passion for international development issues, she set up and chairs the first All Party Group on International Development. In addition, Claire introduced legislative proposals to increase the provision of free childcare to twenty hours and sought to introduce a law to protect mothers breastfeeding in public.
Claire is mother to Eimear, Aideen and Niamh, and married to husband Donal. She is an avid reader, a regular Park Run participant and volunteer, and a regular punter in Northern Ireland’s thriving arts scene.