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Ciara Ferguson MLA

Community development worker Ciara Ferguson is one of two new Sinn Féin MLAs co-opted for Foyle, following the replacement of Martina Anderson and Karen Mullan.

Outline your background/career to date

I grew up in Strabane, the fourth of six children in the family and I went to the Convent Grammar studying English, history and politics at A-Level.

In 1994, I graduated from Ulster University at Magee with a first class BSc in housing and a week later I got married to Eamon. The following year, I had my first son Eamon, my daughter Erin came along in 1996 and our youngest son Patrick in 1998.

All my adult life was spent studying, volunteering and working in Derry. In the early 1990s whilst studying at Magee, I worked as a trainee housing assistant for the Housing Executive. After graduating, I secured a part-time research post at the Housing Research Centre at Magee before securing a Vice Chancellor research scholarship in 1996.

From 2000, I began work in community development at the Greater Shantallow Area Partnership, a community support agency/charity in the outer north area of Derry. From 2007, I became Manager of the charity and in 2011, I also began working as a part-time survey interviewer for NISRA. I went on to continue my studies and graduated from North West Regional College in 2005 with a Diploma in Management and graduating from the Business School at Jordanstown in 2016.

“Having spent most of my adult life working to improve people’s lives and deliver on major projects in the community, I feel that I can make a difference as representative and give ordinary people a voice in the Assembly.”

Over the years, within the city, I have served on the board of several fantastic local charities, including as Chairperson of the Outer North Neighbourhood Renewal Partnership from 2010 and sat on citywide strategic partnerships.

I am passionate about people and for over 20 years have worked with residents, community and voluntary workers and others to help sustain existing and develop new frontline services and deliver much needed community services to meet people’s needs.

What inspired you to get into politics?

Having spent most of my adult life working to improve people’s lives and deliver on major projects in the community, I feel that I can make a difference as representative and give ordinary people a voice in the Assembly.

Derry has so much potential, and I will work to help unlock it and deliver on our priorities whether it’s more social and affordable homes, better mental health services, jobs or the expansion of Magee University.

I am also passionate about Irish unity and securing Derry and the wider north west’s place in the heart of a new and united Ireland.

Who do you admire in politics or public life/political role models?

I admire politicians who are their true selves, who put other people at the centre of their working lives and who treat everyone equally.

Growing up, my political role model was my dad whom we lost in 2002. He loved life, worked hard, always helped people whatever way he could and always seemed to know instinctively when someone may have needed a listening ear or some support.

What drew you to the Sinn Féin?

Sinn Féin are the only party across this island that truly reflects my core values and determination to help bring about social justice, equality and Irish unity. I have always been passionate about delivering a better, fairer Ireland that puts workers and families first and builds a better future for all. I believe Sinn Féin are the only party that can achieve that.

Over the years, I have been involved in the conversation on our constitutional future both here in the city, and in Europe. In 2019, I travelled on a Sinn Féin delegation to the European Parliament in Brussels for the launch of an important document on planning for Irish unity and the role of the EU.

What are your key priorities for your constituency/what are the key issues facing your constituency?

We have a positive vision and a plan for Derry to ensure we reach our full potential. A plan to create jobs, opportunities and a fair deal for ordinary workers and families.

Our priority is ensuring that the commitments to delivering a first-class mental health service, the expansion of Magee University, building more social and affordable housing and more jobs for Derry are delivered on.

What are your interests outside work?

I have always been an avid reader and loved spending time researching my family history and travelling round Ireland with family to explore our history.

I also love spending time with my two beautiful granddaughters, Éabha and Ria. They have really changed our lives and I love having them around the house. They keep us busy.

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