Belfast Telegraph

Video: Former SDLP leader Margaret Ritchie formally takes House of Lords seat

Former SDLP leader Margaret Ritchie has formally taken her seat in the House of Lords.

It was announced in September that she had been given a peerage in Theresa May's resignation honours list.

The former South Down MP resigned from the SDLP, which does not believe members should sit in the House of Lords, following the announcement.

Baroness Ritchie of Downpatrick is the first nationalist to sit in the House of Lords since another former SDLP leader, Gerry Fitt, who became Baron Fitt of Bell's Hill in 1983.

She previously said she was "delighted" to make history by becoming the first nationalist peer in the House of Lords since the signing of the Good Friday Agreement.

"This will give me the opportunity to fight for Northern Ireland in Westminster," she said.

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Margaret Ritchie formally took her seat on Tuesday

"At Westminster we have the DUP, who do not speak for the majority of people in Northern Ireland, and Sinn Fein do not take their seats so I will be happy to reflect the views of nationalists, for I am an Irish nationalist and will stay true to those beliefs.

"I may no longer be a member of the SDLP, but those are the party values I will be bringing to the Lords."

Ms Ritchie said she had no second thoughts about accepting the peerage.

"We're living in unprecedented political times and I feel I need to be there to give a voice to people in Northern Ireland," she said.

"Brexit is obviously a defining issue as we stand today, but I've spent the evening drawing up a list of other issues which affect people in Northern Ireland and I would like to see addressed."

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