Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Never before in the history of Northern Irish politics...part 4

...have women secured more first preferences than men in the European seat.

Despite only have 4 of the 10 candidates women broke through a certain glass ceiling in last week's European election in Northern Ireland for the first time they secured more first preference votes than the men.

In 1979 there was only one female candidate Bernadette McAliskey who was standing as an independent republican. Her 33,969 (5.94%) was enough to see her survive the first three stages before she was eliminated, there were twelve men against her in those first elections.

Five years later in 1984 men took 100% of the votes as there were no women among the eight candidates.

In 1989 there was again a sole lady, Myrtle Boal was standing for the Conservatives and secured 25,789 (4.82%) of the first preferences there were nine men against her five secured more votes than her. She was also the first woman not to be eliminated, but then this was an election that the surplus of the stage one winner elected the final seat on stage two and nobody was excluded.

1994 saw Myrtle joined on the ballot by Mary Clark-Glass (Alliance), Dodie McGuinness (one of three Sinn Féin candidates), June Champion (Independent) and Susannah Thompson (one of three Natural Law candidates). It was the most congested Northern Irish European ballot so far with 17 candidates. Between them the five women won 47,477 (8.48%) votes.

However, after the high of five female candidates there were none again in 1999 when 8 men filled the ballot.

In 2004 women returned to the ballot and one of them was to make a little history. Bairbre de Brún (Sinn Féin) was to become the first female Northern Irish MEP she was joined on the ballot by Lindsay Whitcroft (Green). The two secured as record 119,351 (21.73%) first preferences for women.

2009 was to see another ground breaking result with two of the three seats being won by women. Diane Dodds (DUP) was to join de Brún in Brussels but they were the only two women amongst the 7 candidates. Bairbre de Brún was also the first woman to top the poll as between them they secured 214,530 (44.27%) of the first preferences.

Which brings us to this year de Brún had been replaced as Sinn Féin candidate by Martina Anderson, along with Dodds they took the top two spots after first preferences. Anna Lo (Alliance) was 6th and Tina McKenzie (NI21) completed the quartet. Between them their 345,961 votes was greater than the 6 men they stood against who got 285,164. So in the 2014 European Election here in Northern women secured 55.25% of the first preferences from the 626,125 valid votes.

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