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London Eye proposal sends MLA Claire Sugden's heart into a spin

By Nevin Farrell

As far as political engagement goes, it really doesn't get better than this MLA's romantic revolution.

As Assembly member Claire Sugden watched the sun setting over the Houses of Parliament from a pod on the London Eye, her partner left her stunned when he got down on one knee and popped the question.

Claire, an Independent MLA for East Londonderry, had flown off to London with Andy (33) for what she thought was a trip to mark a decade together.

But as their London Eye pod hit the top of its cycle, Claire had no idea of what was about to unfold.

Andy got down on one knee and proposed while presenting her with a top-of-the-range sparkler from Tiffany's.

She immediately accepted the proposal and in doing so becomes one of the few people to announce their engagement whilst an MLA.

Joked Claire (29): "That's because they are probably not as young as me!"

She added: "It happened at the top of the London Eye on Saturday and it was a very romantic setting with the sun setting over the Houses of Parliament.

"I always enjoy the London Eye because of Westminster as I'm a bit of a political nerd."

The big moment came on the 10th anniversary of their first date, when Andy was a chef and Claire a waitress at the Bushtown Hotel in Coleraine.

Claire said Andy had managed to keep his plans to ask for her hand in marriage completely secret - right up until the moment their pod on the famous London Eye reached the top of the wheel.

Speaking to the Belfast Telegraph from London on Sunday, Claire added: "He got down on one knee. It was all very traditional.

"It was a pod full of tourists but I don't think anyone else noticed which was quite nice as it made it a bit personal.

"They were too busy taking photos of Parliament.

"We love going to the London Eye and Andy wanted to do it on the 'top of the world' - it was lovely."

She said she was delighted with the stunning Tiffany's engagement ring, a princess-cut diamond, and described it as "beautiful".

Claire added: "The reaction to our news has been great, everyone has been really, really nice, really kind."

She said a date and venue for the wedding have yet to be picked and said she has yet to decide the guest list but if she retains her seat past May some fellow MLAs could be attending.

Claire is an Independent and worked with former MLA, the late David McClarty, for six years. She said her old boss would have been delighted for her too.

"He knew Andy as well and I am reflecting on people who have gone who can't be here to hear the good news," she said.

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