Belfast Telegraph

Baby joy for MLAs Stewart and Hanna as we await birth of new Assembly

By Allan Preston

If an Executive can be formed at Stormont, the first item of business for some MLAs could be a new creche after two politicians welcomed special additions to their families in recent days.

Yesterday morning Ulster Unionist MLA for East Antrim John Stewart and his wife Deborah welcomed their second son Harrison into the world.

That followed the birth on Sunday of a baby girl called Niamh for the SDLP's South Belfast MLA Claire Hanna.

It is her third girl with husband Donal Lyons, a councillor in Belfast

At nine days overdue, she joked: "I was worried at one point she was waiting for a political breakthrough."

Speaking to the Belfast Telegraph yesterday, Mr Stewart said the family were doing well.

"They're both sleeping beside me here at the Royal Victoria Hospital," he said.

"Harrison's been asleep all day and Deborah's getting some well-earned rest - it's been a long two days."

Among the first to greet Harrison was his three-year-old brother Cohen.

"He thinks he's great, they're identical almost," the father said.

Mr Stewart added it was a welcome, if brief, distraction from the turmoil at Stormont.

"It was flat-out until Sunday and Deborah and I went in on the early hours of Monday morning," he explained.

"It certainly took my mind off things, but back to reality tomorrow.

"After a week of negatives, it's certainly a nice positive."

After congratulating fellow MLA Ms Hanna on Twitter, he added: "I think we need to get some sort of creche sorted if we get Stormont back up and running. And for Nichola Mallon as well (the SDLP MLA for North Belfast who is also expecting), she's not got long to go, so there'll be a couple of young children floating about."

Yesterday Ms Hanna posted a picture of baby Niamh, born weighing 8lb 7oz, with her sisters.

"We're doing great - she was born on Sunday lunchtime and we got home on Sunday night so we're still all getting used to each other," she told the Belfast Telegraph.

Ms Hanna added her two older daughters were delighted.

"For kids that age, we've been talking about this baby for months and I think they thought she was never going to appear," she said.

"She was nine days late so we were on standby waiting for a baby to come home every day for quite a long time."

Ms Hanna agreed the new arrival was a welcome break from the impasse at the Assembly.

"We're just like any other family, this few weeks has been all about the baby but it is nice to have a distraction because it is very frustrating," she said.

"It does make you think with a new wee life about the health service, education service and all the things that you need as a family - that those things are at risk, and we can't get in and fix this place for all the other babies."

Belfast Telegraph


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