Emma Little-Pengelly

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Emma Little-Pengelly
Official portrait of Emma Little Pengelly crop 2.jpg
Member of Parliament
for Belfast South
In office
8 June 2017 – 6 November 2019
Preceded byAlasdair McDonnell
Succeeded byClaire Hanna
Member of the Legislative Assembly
for Belfast South
In office
28 September 2015 – 26 January 2017
Preceded byJimmy Spratt
Succeeded bySeat abolished
Junior Minister at the Office of the First Minister and Deputy First Minister
In office
28 October 2015 – 25 May 2016
Serving with Jennifer McCann
Preceded byMichelle McIlveen
Succeeded byAlastair Ross
Personal details
Emma Little

(1979-12-31) 31 December 1979 (age 40)
Markethill, County Armagh, Northern Ireland
Political partyDemocratic Unionist Party
Richard Pengelly (m. 2014)
ResidenceBelfast, County Antrim
Alma materQueen's University Belfast
ProfessionPolitician [1]

Emma Little-Pengelly (born 31 December 1979[2]) is a Democratic Unionist Party politician in Northern Ireland.[3] She was the Member of Parliament (MP) for the Belfast South constituency in the House of Commons of the United Kingdom from 2017 until 2019, when she lost her seat to Claire Hanna of the SDLP.[4] She previously served as an MLA for the Belfast South constituency in the Northern Ireland Assembly.

Early life and career[edit]

Little-Pengelly is the daughter of Maureen Elizabeth Little and the loyalist volunteer Noel Little.[5] He was absent from her childhood between the ages of nine and eleven following his arrest for arms trafficking.[6][7]

Little-Pengelly was educated at Markethill High School, Portadown College and at Queen's University Belfast.[5] She qualified as a barrister in 2003. She was also a lecturer at the University of Ulster from 2004 to 2006.

Political career[edit]

Little-Pengelly began her political career in 2007 as Special Advisor (Spad) to Reverend Ian Paisley while he was in the office of First Minister, where she worked as part of the DUP talks team with victims of the Troubles.[8] Little-Pengelly remained in the position of Special Advisor when Peter Robinson assumed the office of First Minister in 2008 until 2015 after over 8 years in the position.[9]

Little-Pengelly succeeded Jimmy Spratt as MLA for Belfast South in the Northern Ireland Assembly in 2015 following his retirement due to ill health.[10] On 28 October 2015, Little-Pengelly was appointed as a junior minister in the Northern Ireland Executive Office.[1]

She lost her seat in the 2017 Northern Ireland Assembly election as the total number of seats in Belfast South was reduced from 6 to 5, trailing her running mate Christopher Stalford by 15 votes at the time of her elimination.[11]

In the 2017 UK general election Little-Pengelly became the MP for Belfast South, gaining the seat from the SDLP's Alasdair McDonnell.[12] The former Northern Ireland First Minister Peter Robinson was the chief strategist behind Little-Pengelly's campaign.[13] She subsequently lost the seat to the SDLP's Claire Hanna in the 2019 general election.

Personal life[edit]

Little-Pengelly is married to Richard Pengelly, who is the Permanent Secretary at the Department of Health in Northern Ireland.[14] She has three stepchildren from Pengelly's first marriage.


  1. ^ "MLA Details: Mrs Emma Little Pengelly". Northern Ireland Assembly. 4 March 2017.
  2. ^ Staff writer (28 September 2015). "DUP appoint Emma Pengelly to succeed Jimmy Spratt as South Belfast MLA". Belfast Telegraph. Retrieved 29 September 2015.
  3. ^ "Emma Little Pengelly MP". parliament.uk. Parliament UK.
  4. ^ a b "Little-Pengelly, Emma". Who's Who. ukwhoswho.com. 2018 (February 2018 online ed.). A & C Black, an imprint of Bloomsbury Publishing plc. Retrieved 13 February 2018. (subscription or UK public library membership required)
  5. ^ Cobain, Ian (27 June 2017). "Troubled past: the paramilitary connection that still haunts the DUP". The Guardian. Retrieved 27 June 2017.
  6. ^ Little, Ivan (1 October 2015). "Ivan Little: Day I quizzed Emma Pengelly's gunrunner dad at loyalist blockade". Belfast Telegraph. Retrieved 2 October 2015.
  7. ^ "DUP's new face at Assembly: A minister in the making?". BelfastTelegraph.co.uk. ISSN 0307-1235. Retrieved 21 September 2019.
  8. ^ "DUP's Emma Pengelly set for Spad 'golden handshake'". The Irish News. Retrieved 21 September 2019.
  9. ^ "Emma Pengelly is new DUP MLA for south Belfast". BBC News. 28 September 2015. Retrieved 29 September 2015.
  10. ^ Bell, Jonny (6 March 2017). "NI Election: Little Pengelly blames DUP leaflet confusion for losing seat". Belfast Telegraph. Retrieved 9 June 2017.
  11. ^ Grattan, Gary (9 June 2017). "Video: DUP's Emma Pengelly vows to 'represent all the people of South Belfast' after taking Alasdair McDonnell's seat". Belfast Telegraph. Retrieved 9 June 2017.
  12. ^ Grattan, Gary (9 June 2017). "Video: Former DUP leader Peter Robinson on Emma Little Pengelly's South Belfast win". Belfast Telegraph. Retrieved 9 June 2017.
  13. ^ Manley, John (23 September 2014). "Concerns over DUP adviser role as company director". The Irish News. Retrieved 2 October 2015.

External links[edit]

Northern Ireland Assembly
Preceded by
Jimmy Spratt
MLA for Belfast South
Seat abolished
Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Alasdair McDonnell
Member of Parliament
for Belfast South

Succeeded by
Claire Hanna
Political offices
Preceded by
Michelle McIlveen
Junior Minister
Succeeded by
Alastair Ross