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Paisleyite, fundamentalist, family man - how high will Paul Givan’s star rise?

By Rebecca Black

Paul Givan is viewed as one of the rising stars of the DUP. The 33-year-old is strongly identified with the fundamentalist wing of the party.

A member of the Free Presbyterian Church, his grandfather and great uncles were founding members of the Protestant Unionist Party, which went on to become the DUP. The married father-of-two frequently describes himself as a Paisleyite, which he terms as "a badge of honour".

Mr Givan is closely associated with fellow DUP Lagan Valley MLA Edwin Poots, who, like him, counts family members among the founders of the party. After graduating from the Ulster University with a business degree, Mr Givan worked as Mr Poots' special adviser in both the Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure and the Department of the Environment.

He also worked for the Federation of Small Businesses as its public affairs manager and successfully campaigned on its behalf for the introduction of the £8m small business rates relief scheme.

In 2005, at the age of 23, Mr Givan became the youngest person to be elected to Lisburn City Council. He was not long in making his mark on the council, and proposed a motion calling for schools to teach alternatives to the theory of evolution.

He ran unsuccessfully for the Assembly in 2010, and in 2011 was co-opted to replace Jeffrey Donaldson when he resigned to concentrate on his duties as an MP. Mr Givan was quickly noticed and within a few months of entering the Assembly was appointed to the high-profile role of chairman of the justice committee, holding minister David Ford to account.

He has generally been viewed as a success in that role, but in 2013 he was forced to issue a public apology to former Police Ombudsman Baroness O'Loan after making comments in a live television interview which questioned her integrity and impartiality during her time in office.

Earlier this year escort Laura Lee filed a complaint against Mr Givan for his treatment of her at a hearing to discuss proposed changes to prostitution legislation here. He asked her how much she charged and accused her of exploiting disabled people for not giving them discounts. In September Mr Robinson announced that Mr Givan would be replaced as justice chair by Alastair Ross in the same reshuffle that saw Mr Poots replaced as Health Minister by Jim Wells. However, so far Mr Givan has stayed in his role as chairman of the justice committee.

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