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SDLP candidate Nichola Mallon six months pregnant

By Suzanne Breen

SDLP Assembly candidate Nichola Mallon has revealed that she is fighting to save her Stormont seat while six months' pregnant.

Ms Mallon told the Belfast Telegraph that although she hadn't expected to be mounting an election campaign in North Belfast under such circumstances, she felt absolutely fine.

"I'm a wee bit tired because my 18-month-old daughter Elena is teething. All her teeth have decided to come at once so there have been a good few sleepless nights," the SDLP representative said.

"Like plenty of other parents with teething toddlers, I'm up a fair bit during the night and it's challenging, as I like my sleep.

"Apart from that, I feel really good.

"I had no morning sickness.

"I've enjoyed a very healthy pregnancy to date and please God it continues."

Ms Mallon (37), who secured the sixth seat in North Belfast in last year's election, said her pregnancy hadn't prevented her from mounting a strong, energetic campaign.

"It is more difficult this time, but I'm just juggling home, being a mum, and work like thousands of other women do," she said.

"My canvassing is mainly in the evening.

"I'm in my constituency office from 8.30 every morning and do a full day's work there.

"People still need help, whether or not there is an election.

"Housing is by far the biggest problem, followed by mental health and substance abuse issues.

"The more visible you are at the doors, the more people come to you for help, so my office is busier than ever."

Ms Mallon had her first child with husband Brendan Scott, who works in PR, shortly after she finished her term of office as Lord Mayor of Belfast in July 2015.

She is due to give birth to this baby in May.

People on the doorsteps have been very kind to her, she said.

"I see them glancing down at the bump," she said.

"Some are afraid to mention it in case I've just put on weight and they offend me, but those who do bring it up have been really nice.

"We've been out on a lot of dark, freezing rainy evenings and people very thoughtfully invite us into their homes to get warmed up.

"There's been plenty of Belfast banter too, with people joking about how they could do with a good boiler on a night like that," she added.

Ms Mallon said that the mood on the ground was more "angry than apathetic" regarding recent events at Stormont.

"People are out working all the hours God sends and they feel that if they made the same mistakes in their job as others have, they'd be fired instantly," she said.

"They believe that there's one rule for the privileged few and another for everybody else."

Ms Mallon said that daughter Elena was too young to understand that she would soon have a baby brother or sister.

The SDLP candidate hopes that her second child will be as easy-going as her first.

"I took Elena to plenty of meetings as a baby and she was very quiet," she said.

"I hope that this one will be just the same.

"Stormont will be in recess over the summer so I won't be up there, but I will certainly be bringing the baby into the constituency office with me."

Her party colleague Claire Hanna is due to give birth to her third child in April, and SDLP leader Colum Eastwood and his wife Rachael are expecting twins in the spring.

"Maybe some day these children will meet up to moan about their parents being in politics," Ms Mallon joked.

"All these new mothers and fathers show the generational change that there has been in the SDLP - and I think that's very welcome."

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