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Margaret Ritchie

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Margaret Ritchie was born on 25 March 1958 in Northern Ireland. Her political career began in 1985 when she was elected to Down District Council representing the Rowallane Area. Later she was elected to Down District Council in successive elections and to the Northern Ireland Assembly in 2003 and again in 2007.

She is NI Assembly Member (MLA) and for South Down since 2003 and was elected Member of Parliament (MP) with a substantial majority in May 2010. For three years from May 2007 Margaret was the SDLP's longest serving Minister, at the Department of Social affairs, with responsibility for housing, urban regeneration, community development, Child Support and the Social Security Agency.

In her ministerial role, Margaret championed the 'Shared Future' Agenda, and was widely regarded as the only Executive minister to take positive practical action to bring together divided communities, through the promotion of shared housing communities.

Margaret Ritchie was leader of the SDLP from February 2010 until November 2011, having been the first woman to lead a mainstream political party in Ireland.

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