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WOMEN MEMBERS OF THE NORTHERN IRELAND ASSEMBLY

The elections to the Northern Ireland Assembly took place on 5 May 2011.
The Northern Ireland Assembly has 108 members, or MLAs: six for each of the eighteen constituencies, elected by the single transferable vote system. Twenty women (19%) were returned in the 2011 elections, which is a marginal increase of two women on the 2007 elections. Table 1 lists the current women members of the Assembly, and Table 2 shows how many women each party had among its MLAs.

In this election gains for women's representation have come from the unionist parties with the UUP breaking its all-male return to Stormont with the election of two women: Sandra Overend (Mid Ulster) and Joanne Dobson (Upper Bann). Sinn Fein has consistently supported women's electoral opportunities making up over one quarter of their MLAs in 2011. Of the 18 constituencies, 5 have no female MLA - East Antrim, East Londonderry, Newry and Armagh, North Antrim and North Down. South Down was unique in electing three female MLA's. Eight of the twenty women elected are first-time MLAs which is a positive development. However, the low overall representation of women in Stormont is a matter of concern for democratic decision-making.

Analysis of the candidates for the 2011 Assembly elections can be found here.

Table 1: Current women MLAs (as at 23 June 2011)

Name
Party
Constituency
Returned/New
Judith Cochrane
APNI
East Belfast
New
Anna Lo
APNI
South Belfast
Returned
Arlene Foster
DUP
Fermanagh & South Tyrone
Returned
Paula Bradley
DUP
North Belfast
New
Pam Lewis
DUP
South Antrim
New
Michelle McIlveen
DUP
Strangford
Returned
Brenda Hale
DUP
Lagan Valley
New
Dolores Kelly
SDLP
Upper Bann
Returned
Margaret Ritchie
SDLP
South Down
Returned
Karen McKevitt
SDLP
South Down
New
Martina Anderson
SF
Foyle
Returned
Michelle Guildernew
SF
Femanagh & South Tyrone
Returned
Jennifer McCann
SF
West Belfast
Returned
Michaela Boyle
SF
West Tyrone
New
Carál Ní Chuilín
SF
North Belfast
Returned
Michelle O'Neill
SF
Mid Ulster
Returned
Sue Ramsey
SF
West Belfast
Returned
Catriona Ruane
SF
South Belfast
Returned
Sandra Overend
UUP
Mid Ulster
New
Joanne Dobson
UUP
Upper Bann
New



Table 2: Northern Ireland Assembly by Gender and Party

Party
Women
Total Seats
% Women
APNI
2
8
25
DUP
5
38
13
SDLP
3
14
21
SF
8
29
28
UUP
2
16
12.5
Other
-
3
0
Total
20
108
18.5


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