Belfast Telegraph

Monday 28 July 2014

DebateNI home of Northern Ireland politics

Is east Belfast woman Izzy Giles the new face of the PUP?

East Belfast PUP member Izzy Giles at work in the party's offices
East Belfast PUP member Izzy Giles at work in the party's offices

There's a new PUP in town – and she's cutting her teeth in the final round of the Haass talks.

East Belfast woman Izzy Giles was part of yesterday's delegation from the Progressive Unionist Party that met with former US special envoy Dr Richard Haass.

The 24-year-old is seen as one of the emerging new, articulate voices of grassroots loyalism. She joined the party last February and has already made her mark as a researcher, working with east Belfast party colleague Dr John Kyle.

They worked on a special investigation of the sex trade ahead of Lord Morrow's Human Trafficking Bill, which aims to criminalise those paying for sex.

Among the sensitive and tough issues discussed during the Haass talks is the Union flag.

Party leader Billy Hutchinson said ahead of the meeting: "There will be no tampering with the Union flag. It is the flag of the United Kingdom."

Along with other young women of her age, she is active on social media, having over 1,200 Twitter followers and updating a Facebook profile.

She is not afraid to stand up for her rights, or her party, particularly on online debates.

As well as identifying herself as a loyalist, she is also committed to equal rights and women's rights. A former pupil of an integrated all-girl grammar school in east Belfast, Ms Giles is passionate about integrated education as a way forward to tackle division.

And on the question of flags, she said: "As a British citizen, I am not offended by the colours on a different flag to my own, a different religion or political views that I do not share. To be British and to have British values, for me, is to celebrate and respect diversity."

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