Three of 31 candidates from main NI unionist parties are women

Quotas may be the best route forward for women’s representation, says academic

Sinn Féin MP for Fermanagh and South Tyrone Michelle Gildernew: Said absence of DUP and Ukip women candidates in forthcoming elections was ‘an absolute disgrace’. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

Sinn Féin MP for Fermanagh and South Tyrone Michelle Gildernew: Said absence of DUP and Ukip women candidates in forthcoming elections was ‘an absolute disgrace’. Photograph: Cyril Byrne


With women making up only a quarter of the 138 candidates in Northern Ireland contesting the forthcoming general election, a leading Belfast-based academic has said quotas may be the best way forward.

In fact, just three of the 31 candidates from the main two unionist parties vying for votes on May 7th are women.

Of the five main political parties in the North, the Alliance Party has the highest proportion of female candidates selected to run – seven out of 18.

Six of Sinn Féin’s 18 are women, while five of the SDLP’s 18 runners are female.

The DUP’s 16 candidates are all men, with just three of the 15 UUP members seeking election women.

Of the 138 people in the 18 Westminster constituencies, 34 are women – including candidates running for the Conservative Party (six), Green Party (two), Workers’ Party (two), Independents (two) and TUV (one).

All of Ukip’s 10 candidates running for election are men. David McNarry, leader of Ukip in Northern Ireland, said regrettably no women had put themselves forward.

People Before Profit

The Cannabis is Safer than Alcohol party have four men standing, and also say no women applied. People Before Profit are putting forward one candidate – a man.

Prof Yvonne Galligan, director of the Centre for Advancement of Women in Politics at Queen’s University Belfast, says more must be done to increase the number of women candidates in the future.

“Women are half the population but only a quarter of the candidates,” she said.

“That is not democratic representation.

“I believe legal quotas can take different forms and think they are the best way of increasing women’s representation and enable big leaps forward.”

There are currently four women MPs in the North: the SDLP’s Margaret Ritchie (South Down), Independent unionist Lady Sylvia Hermon (North Down), Alliance Party deputy leader Naomi Long (Belfast East) and Sinn Féin’s Michelle Gildernew (Fermanagh and South Tyrone).

The latter two incumbents are in constituencies where the DUP and UUP have stepped aside for each other in a bid to win Belfast East for the DUP (Gavin Robinson) and Fermanagh and South Tyrone for the UUP (Tom Elliott).

On the issues of the lack of female representation, senior DUP politician Arlene Foster told BBC Northern Ireland: “I think we have a particular set of circumstances because we have eight returning, we hope, MPs.

“They are eight incumbents, so we cannot say to those eight people that they should leave the field open for a woman, so that’s that particular issue. Of course, we do need to see more women coming forward into all political parties.

“I don’t think any political party has a surplus of women and we need to ensure that we are tackling that at grassroots level and I am pleased to say the DUP are.”

Ms Long, a candidate in Belfast East, says the Alliance Party is leading the way with its diverse range of men and women in the running.

“Alliance is committed to representing everyone,” said Ms Long. “In 2010, I was one of just 142 women MPs elected to parliament, making up just 22 per cent of the total.

“While things might be improving slowly, the lack of women in public life is still a concern. Almost 100 years since women won the right to vote, too many still stay at home on election day, uninspired by the choice on the ballot paper.

“It’s unsurprising, given parties like the DUP claim to represent all voters but can’t manage to find one female out of 18 keen to represent their policies.”


“Only in March of this year a report titled Women in Politics was unanimously endorsed on the floor of the Assembly. The DUP’s Stephen Moutray said in that debate: ‘The Assembly, political parties and the Executive cannot truly deliver for all their citizens if half the population remains under-represented in the political arena,’” she said.

“How does this square with the DUP endorsing all-male candidates, as well as a further two men in unionist electoral pacts with the UUP. In two of the constituencies with pacts they are seeking to remove a woman from the seat.

“It is clear from the DUP’s electoral intentions that they were only paying lip service to such an ideal and in their own words ‘cannot truly deliver for all their citizens’.”

Belfast West is the only constituency with no women in the running, while Fermanagh and South Tyrone is the only constituency with more women candidates than men.

List of Northern Ireland candidates for Westminster election

East Belfast

Incumbent: Naomi Long (Alliance)

Ross Brown (Green Party)

Mary Muldoon (SDLP)

Niall Ó Donnghaile (Sinn Féin)

Gavin Robinson (DUP)

Neil Wilson (Conservatives)

North Belfast

Incumbent: Nigel Dodds (DUP)

Fra Hughes (Independent)

Gerry Kelly (Sinn Féin)

Alban Maginness (SDLP)

Jason O’Neill (Alliance)

Gemma Weir (Workers Party)

South Belfast

Incumbent: Alasdair McDonnell (SDLP)

Clare Bailey (Green Party)

Jonathan Bell (DUP)

Paula Bradshaw (Alliance)

Lily Kerr (Workers Party)

Ben Manton (Conservatives)

Rodney McCune (UUP)

Máirtín Ó Muilleoir (Sinn Féin)

Bob Stoker (UKIP)

West Belfast

Incumbent: Paul Maskey (Sinn Féin)

Alex Attwood (SDLP)

Gerry Carroll (People Before Profit Alliance)

Gerard Catney (Alliance)

Brian Higginson (UKIP)

John Lowry (Workers Party)

Bill Manwaring (UUP)

Frank McCoubrey (DUP)

Paul Shea (Conservatives)

East Antrim

Incumbent: Sammy Wilson (DUP)

Roy Beggs (UUP)

Stewart Dickson (Alliance)

Noel Jordan (UKIP)

Margaret McKillop (SDLP)

Oliver McMullan (Sinn Féin)

Alex Wilson (Conservatives)

Ruth Wilson (TUV)

East Londonderry

Incumbent: Gregory Campbell (DUP)

Caoimhe Archibald (Sinn Féin)

Yvonne Boyle (Alliance)

William McCandless (UUP)

Gerry Mullan (SDLP)

Neil Paine (Cannabis is Safer than Alcohol)

Elizabeth St Clair-Legge (Conservatives)

Fermanagh and South Tyrone

Incumbent: Michelle Gildernew (Sinn Féin)

John Coyle (SDLP)

Tom Elliott (UUP)

Tanya Jones (Green Party)

Hannah Su (Alliance)


Incumbent: Mark Durkan (SDLP)

Hamish Badenoch (Conservatives)

David Hawthorne (Alliance)

Julia Kee (UUP)

Gary Middleton (DUP)

Gearóid Ó Heára (Sinn Féin)

Kyle Thompson (UKIP)

Lagan Valley

Incumbent: Jeffrey Donaldson (DUP)

Pat Catney (SDLP)

Alan Love (UKIP)

Trevor Lunn (Alliance)

Jacqui McGeough (Sinn Féin)

Samuel Morrison (TUV)

Jonny Orr (Independent)

Helen Osborne (Conservatives)

Alexander Redpath (UUP)

Mid Ulster

Incumbent: Francie Molloy (Sinn Féin)

Eric Bullick (Alliance)

Alan Day (UKIP)

Gareth Ferguson (TUV)

Ian McCrea (DUP)

Lucille Nicholson (Conservatives)

Sandra Overend (UUP)

Malachy Quinn (SDLP)

Hugh Scullion (Workers Party)

Newry and Armagh

Incumbent: Conor Murphy (Sinn Féin - not standing)

Mickey Brady (Sinn Féin)

Danny Kennedy (UUP)

Justin McNulty (SDLP)

Kate Nicholl (Alliance)

Robert Rigby (Conservatives)

North Antrim

Incumbent: Ian Paisley Jnr (DUP)

Jayne Dunlop (Alliance)

Carol Freeman (Conservatives)

Timothy Gaston (TUV)

Robert Hill (UKIP)

Daithi McKay (Sinn Féin)

Declan O’Loan (SDLP)

Thomas Palmer (Independent)

Robin Swann (UUP)

North Down

Incumbent: Sylvia Hermon (Independent)

Steven Agnew (Green Party)

Mark Brotherston (Conservatives)

William Cudworth (TUV)

Glenn Donnelly (Cannabis is Safer than Alcohol)

Alex Easton (DUP)

Jonny Lavery (UKIP)

Therese McCartney (Sinn Féin)

Andrew Muir (Alliance)

Tom Woolley (SDLP)

South Antrim

Incumbent: Robert (Willie) McCrea (DUP)

Richard Cairns (TUV)

Alan Dunlop (Conservatives)

Declan Kearney (Sinn Féin)

Neil Kelly (Alliance)

Danny Kinahan (UUP)

Roisin Lynch (SDLP)

South Down

Incumbent: Felicity Buchan (Conservatives)

Chris Hazzard (Sinn Féin)

Harold McKee (UUP)

Henry Reilly (UKIP)

Margaret Ritchie (SDLP)

Martyn Todd (Alliance)

Jim Wells (DUP)


Incumbent: Jim Shannon (DUP)

Johnny Andrews (Conservatives)

Kellie Armstrong (Alliance)

Sheila Bailie (Sinn Féin)

Joe Boyle (SDLP)

Robert Burgess (UUP)

Stephen Cooper (TUV)

Joe Jordan (UKIP)

Upper Bann

Incumbent: David Simpson (DUP)

Amandeep Bhogal (Conservatives)

Jo-Anne Dobson (UUP)

Damien Harte (Workers Party)

Dolores Kelly (SDLP)

Martin Kelly (Cannabis is Safer than Alcohol)

Peter Lavery (Alliance)

Catherine Seeley (Sinn Féin)

West Tyrone

Incumbent: Pat Doherty (Sinn Féin)

Barry Brown (Cannabis is Safer than Alcohol)

Tom Buchanan (DUP)

Stephen Donnelly (Alliance)

Ross Hussey (UUP)

Claire-Louise Leyland (Conservatives)

Ciaran McClean (Green Party)

Daniel McCrossan (SDLP)

Susan-Anne White (Independent)