Record number of MLA women elected to Stormont

Voters in Northern Ireland have brought a record number of women back into assembly.

Of the 90 MLAs elected at Stormont, 32 are women — an increase from 33 percent in 2020 to just over 36 percent.

The first congregation formed after the 1998 Good Friday Agreement had only 13 percent female representation.

Among them were Monica McWilliams and Jane Morrice of the Women’s Coalition, Bairbre de Brún of Sinn Féin, Iris Robinson of the DUP, Joan Carson of the UUP and Bríd Rodgers of the SDLP, who was a minister in the First Executive.

While change was slow before Arlene Foster was ousted as DUP leader last year, there were four female party leaders in the assembly.

Joining the DUP leader, who has since left politics, were Sinn Féin’s Michelle O’Neill, Alliance Party leader Naomi Long and Green Party leader Clare Bailey, who lost her seat over the weekend.

Newcomers to Stormont include Alliance’s Kate Nicholl, who was elected in South Belfast, where three of the five new MLAs are women, and Diane Forsythe from the DUP in South Down.

Alliance’s Patricia O’Lynn made history as the first female MLA ever elected in North Antrim. She dethroned DUP veteran Mervyn Storey, a former minister and MLA for nearly 20 years.

Another new female face at Stormont is Sorcha Eastwood from the Alliance Party.

she faces many party media appearances and was elected in Lagan Valley alongside her party colleague Connie Egan in North Down.

Upon her election, Ms Egan said the last time a woman was elected in North Down was in 2003.

“It’s so important that our elected officials look like our society,” she said.

Another Alliance newcomer, Nuala McAllister, was elected in North Belfast, knocking out Nichola Mallon and leaving the SDLP with just two women on its assembly team.

Among them is Cara Hunter, who was elected for the first time having previously been co-opted to replace the late John Dallat in East Derry.

Both Ms Hunter and Ms Forsythe faced misogynistic intimidation during the election campaign.

Sinn Féin had the most female candidates.

The Ulster Unionists have no female MLAs and Rosemary Barton lost to fellow candidate Tom Elliott after the party fielded two candidates in Fermanagh and South Tyrone.

Four of the top 10 voters were women, with Sinn Féin’s Sinéad Ennis receiving the most first preference votes of any candidate with 14,381 votes – ahead of DUP leader Jeffrey Donaldson, who received 12,626 first preference votes.

Other frontrunners in the polls are Ms. O’Neill with 10,845 preference votes, Cathy Mason with 9,963 and Deirdre Hargey with 9,511. All of the female frontrunners are at Sinn Féin.

Of the DUP’s 25 MLAs, six are women.

Sinn Féin has 12 women among their 27 MLAs. Eight of Allianz’s 17 MLAs are women.

The SDLP was left with only two female MLAs and independent trade unionist Claire Sugden was re-elected. Record number of MLA women elected to Stormont

Fry Electronics Team

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