New Assembly members take up seats

By Michael McHugh, PA

Five new Stormont Assembly members have taken up their roles in Northern Ireland.

DUP MEP Diane Dodds will represent the Upper Bann constituency.

It was vacated by party colleague Carla Lockhart after she won the Westminster seat in last month’s General Election.

DUP MEP Diane Dodds will represent the Upper Bann constituency (Liam McBurney/PA)

Ms Dodds has been a proponent of Brexit in the European Parliament. The UK is due to leave the bloc at the end of the month.

She said: “It’s a great privilege to represent an area where I was born and now live.

“We all need a functioning and stable Assembly which delivers and deals with the practical everyday issues we all face.”

Two new Sinn Fein MLAs have also joined the Assembly.

Liz Kimmins and Deirdre Hargey signed the register at Parliament Buildings after being co-opted to replace Megan Fearon in Newry and Armagh and Mairtin O Muilleoir in South Belfast respectively.

Elsewhere Alliance Party leader Naomi Long has retaken her former seat in East Belfast ahead of Brexit, and the SDLP’s Sinead McLaughlin has replaced her party leader and newly elected MP Colum Eastwood in Foyle.