Could next week see a break through in women in the Assembly?

So will next week’s poll see the breaking of more glass ceilings for female representation in the Assembly? 

Time will tell. But as we political nerds have fun tallying the possible final outcomes for political parties we should also look at potential gender outcomes.

Foyle (0/1)

Surprisingly Derry has only one female candidate placed to be in with a shout. Elisha McCallion the former Mayor of Derry and Strabane has a good profile in the city and has a reputation as a grafter on the ground. In a battle royale between SF, PBP and the DUP for the last two seats it will come down to the strength of her first preferences before the transfers start to be distributed (presuming her running mate Raymond McCartney gets a better first preference).

West Tyrone (2)

There are 2 unionist quotas here and newcomer Alicia Clarke should successfully defend the seat of her predecessor Ross Hussey. Sinn Féin will be fighting hard to take 3 seats on 2.5 quotas which will take careful balancing on their part. Michaela Boyle is their candidate in the old Strabane Council end of the constituency and she should be returned given the strength of the Sinn Féin vote in that area alone.

Fermanagh and South Tyrone (2/3)

Arlene Foster and Michelle Gildernew are ‘home in a boat’. Sinn Féin has put the candidate problems they had here last year behind them and are fielding Belleek native Jemma Dolan who previously worked for Martina Anderson in the European Parliament. Sinn Féin will definitely get 2 seats and on a good day both Dolan and Gildernew will get returned with their running mate Sean Lynch.

Mid Ulster (2/3)

The UUP’s Sandra Overend appears to be safe as does Sinn Féin’s new leader in the north Michelle O’Neill. Similar to FST republicans are going for 3 seats and it could come down to a battle between Linda Dillon and Patsy McGlone for the last seat (depending on how SF balances their candidates).

East Derry (1/2)

Claire Sugden took a bit of flak as the wheels of the Executive started to come off before Christmas but I still think that she has emerged relatively unscathed and should be safe with Alliance and UUP transfers. Sinn Féin’s Caoimhe Archibald and Cathal O’hOisin could potentially squeeze past John Dallat if Gerry Mullan (Independent) reduces the SDLP first count significantly. If only one SF candidate is elected it is hard to call given the closeness of split between the two runners in 2016.

South Antrim (1)

The DUP’s Pam Cameron should be returned. The DUP should lose a seat here but it does seem to be the case that Trevor Clarke will be the faller given the placing of their 3 candidates last year.

Newry & Armagh (1)

Megan Fearon will be re-elected. Sinn Féin will find it tough to return 3 MLAs on 2.5 quotas but Fearon was their best performing candidate here in 2016.

Upper Bann (3)

Carla Lockhart and Jo-Anne Dobson were the top DUP and UUP performers here last year and will both be re-elected. There are 2 nationalist seats and Dolores Kelly will be seeking to leap-frog the second Sinn Féin runner Nuala Toman via transfers from the Alliance and the UUP. Another nail-biter awaits.

South Down (2)

Both the SDLP and Sinn Féin had 1.9 quotas here last year so I’d expect both Sinead Ennis and Sinead Bradley to be returned.

Strangford (2)

Kellie Armstrong (Alliance) and Michelle McIlveen (DUP) should both be safe.

Lagan Valley (1)

A straight fight between the DUP and UUP for 4 seats should see one of either Brenda Hale or Jenny Palmer returned.

West Belfast (1)

Órlaithí Flynn is the only female candidate that can take a seat. Sinn Féin are fighting for 4 from a 2016 base of 3.3 quotas. However Flynn is running in Jennifer McCann’s old stomping ground and should therefore be returned close to the top of the list once the first preferences are counted.

East Belfast (2)

Joanne Bunting of the DUP and Naomi Long of Alliance are well placed to meet the quota again after strong 2016 outings.

North Belfast (2/3)

Gerry Kelly is the only cert to be returned. Those scrapping it out for the other places will include Carál Ní Chuilín, Nicola Mallon, Paula Bradley and Nuala McAllister. A tough one to call.

South Belfast (2/3/4)

Claire Hanna of the SDLP is probably safest placed here. If Claire Bailey, Emma Little-Pengelly and Paula Bradshaw were to be returned too – which is quite possible – it would make this the constituency with the most female MLAs.

North Down, North Antrim, East Antrim (0)
In none of these constituencies are women placed to take over half a quota which is required (according to accepted election logic) to put them in the running. Interesting to note that no female MLA has ever been elected from these 3 constituencies bar former Assembly Speaker Eilleen Bell who was elected for Alliance in North Down in 1998 and 2003 and Jane Morrice that was also elected from the same constituency in 1998. 

To conclude we are either going to have an Assembly with 24 women (26.6%), 31 women (34%) or somewhere in between. Given that the outgoing Assembly was 28% female we should improve upon that and there is a fair possibility that at least 30% of the MLAs going back up to Stormont will be female. Whether they get an opportunity to take their seats or not is another matter entirely.


  • Msiegnaro

    Surely Gerry Kelly in NB is male or have I missed something?

  • burnboilerburn

    Despite the fact that our most successful female candidate to date came in the form of Arlene Foster, we should hope to deliver a higher percentage this time and all parties should contuinue working on the ground to ensure more women have the opporrunity to rise up through the ranks. Arlene’s acsendency should not be allowed spoil the progress already made. Remember, even the prettiest of village greens can be spoiled by dog poop from time to time. No need to avoid them.

  • Dan

    If you didn’t laugh, one could despair at the absolute garbage the political clique here obsess with.
    Who the fk cares how many women are elected?
    If the Assembly was 100% women and they did a competent job, great.
    Get serious.

  • Gaygael

    If you don’t believe that our decision makers should look like the society that they purport to represent then their really is no point in a discussion.

    Its privilege which gives us this over representation of men. Time for quotas.

  • Msiegnaro

    Agreed Dan, we need less women if anything.

  • SeaanUiNeill


  • Msiegnaro

    They’re always whining I’ve been unimpressed with all females in NI politics. Happy to be proven wrong.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    One of those things we may just have to disagree over!

  • Msiegnaro

    Fair enough, just disappointed that it’s all about females these day.

  • Granni Trixie

    Thanks for highlighting the issue of female representation. Elections provide a rough measurement of change (or not) in political culture as regards women who are half the population and diversity in general.

    Whilst I can see in most cases the reasons why, from your perspective, you arrive At particular conclusions, I do not in case of Claire Sugden. I question your characterisation of her situation as “took a bit of flak as wheels came off the Executive prior to Christmas” – she was roundly criticised in a sustained way for appearing to be following the orders of those who appointed her, significant when she was seen as an independent safe pair of hands. She also performed really badly on media opportunities.

    That said, negative publicity is now chip paper and the public have short memories so she could retain her vote. But her situation has altered sufficiently since she was last elected to say that the jury is still out on the probability of her retaining her seat. Which leads to questions concerning which candidates would benefit.

  • Lucian Fletcher

    Fewer. You mean fewer. You are also wrong.

  • Msiegnaro

    Ok fewer, fair point.

  • Dan

    Oh for god sakes
    I couldn’t give a flying fk what the assembly looks like. I want people elected to do the job properly, competently and honestly.
    If all you want is quotas, ticking some anti-privelege box, lock the doors and leave us with direct rule.

  • Msiegnaro

    Has any elected female official in NI’s history done a good job?

  • Pete

    Gender is completely irrelevant.

  • Pete

    Quotas for male nurses too, then?

  • Katyusha

    Has any elected official in NI’s history done a good job? I mean, excluding Martin McGuinness, who kept the show on the road even when his partners who apparently supported it’s existence treated it with reckless abandon.

    In all seriousness, I’ve heard nothing but good things about the work done by Bríd Rogers, Michelle Gildernew and Michelle O’Neill during their stints ant DAERA (née DARD), but as I am close to that department and no others, I can’t really speak for any of the other female ministers.

  • Granni Trixie

    You mean in life?

  • Msiegnaro

    A little Republican in tone.

    Didn’t Ms O’Neill get overruled by a High Court judge when she attempted to divert EU money destined for single farm payments to other areas with her remit?

  • John Collins

    And you seriously telling us that male politicians, both and south, are that good.

  • Msiegnaro

    Politics and in life, they really have an unreasonable control over everything.

  • Granni Trixie

    “They” meaning women? I know what you mean. Not fair is it?

  • Msiegnaro

    Completely agree, one almost feels one has to step aside when they’re around, yet what have they accomplished?

  • Msiegnaro

    Not as versed on the ROI but certainly there’s a case for less females in public life in NI.

  • Granni Trixie

    O I don’t know – they get stuff done quite subtly. And multitask, ofcourse. But what they really excel at is nurturing men,too much it is said. Many s a man has taken his wife for granted until she is away for a time, then he knows all about it.

    Mr Poots quite rightly puts high value on such such women’s work,doesn’t he?

  • Msiegnaro

    What has Mr. Poots said?

    I think you overvalue the importance of females, I’ve got by all my life without one, never really had a need for them.

  • Gaygael

    I don’t believe that the over representation of men is the best group of people to do it properly, competently, and honestly.

  • Vince

    South Antrim should have included mention of a really fine female SDLP candidate, Roisin Lynch. She was effectively little more than 200 votes short of a seat last time.

  • Conchúr Ó Conghaile

    I think I understand why you can’t get a girlfriend.

    try tinder

  • Msiegnaro

    I have no use for one.

  • Allison Sutherland

    I believe that women should feel empowered if they so wish and be encouraged to have an interest in politics. However, the thought of fulfilling a quota and thereby, almost by default, leaving out some more efficient and effective male brains is completely ludicrous to me. It should always be the best person for the job, genitalia has absolutely nothing to do with it. Margaret Thatcher was a woman and look at what she did!

  • John Collins

    I know a quite few women who seemed to have got on fine without men in their life.

  • Msiegnaro

    Good for them, why should it not work the other way around too?

  • Granni Trixie

    That the most important job of his Leader was as “wife,mother and daughter”. Sensible, ain’t it?

  • Msiegnaro

    Obviously I don’t concur but family should always be top of all our agendas.