Claire Hanna

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Claire Hanna

Claire Hanna.JPG
Member of the Legislative Assembly
for Belfast South
Assumed office
29 June 2015
Preceded byAlasdair McDonnell
Personal details
Born (1980-06-19) 19 June 1980 (age 39)
Connemara, Ireland
Political partySocial Democratic and Labour Party
Spouse(s)Donal Lyons
Alma materOpen University
Queen's University Belfast

Claire Hanna (born 19 June 1980) is an Irish politician from Northern Ireland. She has been a Member of the Legislative Assembly (MLA) for Belfast South since 2015.[1]

Early Life and Education[edit]

Born in Connemara, County Galway, Hanna has lived in South Belfast since the age of three. She attended St Bride's Primary and Rathmore Grammar School. She has an honours degree in International Relations from the Open University and a master's degree in Law from Queen’s University Belfast. Her professional background is in international development, latterly in a policy and education role, and included work in Bangladesh, Haiti and Zambia.

She is married to Belfast SDLP Councillor Donal Lyons; the couple have three children.[2]

Political career[edit]

Hanna was elected to Belfast City Council, representing the Balmoral ward, from 2011 until her appointment as MLA, winning re-election in 2014.[3] During her time in council, she sat on the Strategic Policy & Resources and Town Planning committees as well as the Historic Centenaries Working group.[citation needed]

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- meaningful ways to tackle poverty and make work pay. She also successfully introduced measures to combat the rise of predatory payday lending. Claire also helped to change Belfast City Council procurement policies to allow exclusion of companies engaged in tax evasion- ensuring a fairer deal for the public purse and small local businesses. Hanna instigated Assembly Adjournment debates on small business rates, submitted comprehensive proposals to restore vibrancy and entrepreneurship to the local shopping streets. As well as leading successful campaigns for the reinstatement of Lisburn Road Post Office in 2013, better traffic management in Finaghy in 2014 and on a variety of issues like improving recycling facilities and sustainable transport.[citation needed]

She secured all-party agreement to award the Freedom of Belfast to poet Michael Longley.[4] She initiated a campaign to name the new Greenway bridge after playwright and trade unionist Sam Thompson.[5] In the Assembly, she serves on the Regional Development Committee, the Public Accounts Committee and the Environment Committee. She established and chairs the Assembly All Party Groups on International Development and the Arts. To provide a dedicated advocacy forum for the Arts, which provide colour, jobs and completely shared spaces.[6]

Hanna sponsored the November 2015 motion that gained the first Assembly majority for Equal Civil Marriage with full protection for churches. Hanna helped bring the motion to the Assembly outlining costed, sensible proposals to provide meaningful support on childcare costs for working families- helping keep women and skills in the workplace.

Hanna was the first member of the SDLP to express concern about the decision of SDLP Newry councillors to vote to name a play park after IRA hunger striker Raymond McCreesh.[7]

During the same period, Hanna was chair of the East Belfast Policing Board and Community Partnership. Her home was attacked in the midst of the flag protests.[8]

In February 2019, Hanna resigned the party whip after the SDLP agreed to form an electoral alliance with Fianna Fáil. She also quit as the party’s Brexit spokesperson. However, she remains a member of the SDLP. [9]


  1. ^ "SDLP's Claire Hanna to replace Alasdair McDonnell at Stormont". Belfast Telegraph. 25 June 2015. Retrieved 5 November 2015.
  2. ^ "About Claire". Claire Hanna. Retrieved 4 November 2016.
  3. ^ "Claire Hanna MLA – SDLP". Archived from the original on 6 October 2015. Retrieved 20 September 2015.
  4. ^ "Michael Longley: Poet honoured with Freedom of Belfast". BBC News. Retrieved 20 September 2015.
  5. ^ "Sam bridges the gap in east Belfast as public tweets its approval". Retrieved 20 September 2015.
  6. ^ "The Northern Ireland Assembly". Retrieved 20 September 2015.
  7. ^ "Unionist backing for SDLP councillor". 8 January 2013. Retrieved 4 November 2016.
  8. ^ "SDLP councillor Claire Hanna's home attacked". BBC News. Retrieved 4 November 2016.
  9. ^ "Claire Hanna resigns SDLP whip". Retrieved 14 March 2019.


Northern Ireland Assembly
Preceded by
Alasdair McDonnell
MLA for Belfast South