Emma Pengelly former advisor to Peter Robinson will replace Jimmy Spratt as an MLA for South Belfast (worth pointing out she is taking a huge pay cut moving to the assembly).
On taking up the role Emma said;
It is an incredible privilege to have this opportunity to serve the people of South Belfast. I am determined to be a strong advocate for all the people of the constituency and help build on the foundation laid by Jimmy Spratt. I wish him well in his retirement.
South Belfast is a diverse constituency with some challenges but many more opportunities. I look forward to working with all sections of the community, including the large employers within the education and health sectors and the voluntary sectors, to continue to build a vibrant and strong economy and to ensure South Belfast remains a great place to live, study, work and visit.
The DUP leader Peter Robinson said;
I would like once again to pay tribute to Jimmy Spratt for his dedication and service both to the DUP and to the South Belfast constituency. I am delighted however that the constituency will have such a talented policy expert as Emma working on its behalf.
She has worked very closely with many community and voluntary organisations over the last number of years, and in South Belfast she was instrumental in bringing forward the ‘Urban Villages’ programme which will help tackle dereliction within the Sandy Row/Donegall Pass area of the constituency. She will be a first-rate representative for South Belfast representing a new generation of talent within the DUP.
This means that 4 of the 6 South Belfast MLAs have never faced an election before, but on a positive note half of the current MLAs from that constituency are women.
Emma is firmly on the Robinson wing of the party and much like her colleague in East Belfast, Gavin Robinson is a part of the new, softer side of the DUP.
David McCann holds a PhD in North-South relations from University of Ulster. You can follow him on twitter @dmcbfs