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Born in North Belfast on 9th July 1950 Alban Maginness was educated in St Malachy's, Belfast and the University of Ulster at Coleraine. He read for the Northern Ireland Bar at Queen's University Belfast, and was called to the Northern Ireland Bar Michaelmas in 1976 and the Bar of Ireland Michaelmas in 1984. In 2007 he completed a Masters in Human Rights Law from Queens University, Belfast.

While at university he became involved in the non-violent protests organised by the Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association and participated in the Civil Rights March in Derry on 30th January 1972. Maginness became increasingly involved in politics and became a member of the Social Democratic and Labour Party in 1972.

Alban was elected as a member of Belfast City Council in 1985 and has been re-elected in every election since. In 1997 Alban was elected as the first Nationalist Lord Mayor in the history of Belfast and throughout his year in office pioneered a spirit of partnership politics on Belfast City Council.

Alban was Chairperson of the SDLP from 1985-1991. He was a party candidate for the 1992, 1997, 2001 and 2005 Westminster elections, coming runner up. He was elected to the Inter-Party Talks in 1996 and was also a party delegate to the Brooke Talks in 1992 and to the Forum for Peace and Reconciliation in Dublin. He was elected to Northern Ireland Assembly in June 1998 and was successfully re-elected in November 2003 and March 2007.

In the first Assembly Alban held the position of Chair of the Assembly's Regional Development Committee, which was responsible for; transport planning, public transport, roads, rail, ports and airports, city visioning, water, strategic planning. He was also Chair of the Ad Hoc Committee on the Proceeds of Crime Bill.

After the 2007 Assembly election Alban served on the Social Development committee and was also a member of the influential Assembly Commission. He is currently the Chair of the SDLP Assembly group. After the 2009 SDLP reshuffle Alban was appointed to the Chair of the Enterprise, Trade, and Investment committee. Alban is the SDLP Spokesperson on Justice and was the SDLP delegate to the Bill of Rights Forum. Alban is also a member of the Committee on the Administration of Justice (CAJ).

Alban has a keen interest in European affairs and was a delegate to the Committee of the Regions and he is currently a member of the Special Observer Pillar of the National Forum on Europe. In 2009 Alban was the SDLP candidate for the European election and narrowly lost out on winning a seat.

Throughout his political career Alban was known for his trademark moustache but decided to shave it off in order to raise money for Children In Need, raising almost £2,000 for the charity in the process.


By Alana Fearon, North Belfast News, 22 December 2007




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