Caitríona Ruane has been an assembly representative for South Down since 2003. She was appointed Minister for Education in 2007 where she led the badly needed reform of the education system. She is currently the Principal Deputy Speaker of the Northern Ireland Assembly, and Chair of the Women’s Caucus in Stormont.
As an international aid worker, Ruane worked in Central America (El Salvador, Nicaragua, Guatemala and Honduras) from 1983-87. Upon her return to Ireland she worked with Trócaire, before founding a human rights Centre in West Belfast.
Ruane was the director of Féile an Phobail, a founder of St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Belfast. She chaired the Bring Them Home Campaign, which aimed to safely return three Irishmen home after their arrest and detainment in Colombia. In 2000 President Mary McAleese presented Ruane with the Aisling Person of the Year Award. She was the Sinn Féin Chief whip and a member of the Policing Board from 2007 - 2011.
Principal Deputy Speaker, NI Assembly