Belfast Telegraph

Third of Northern Ireland candidates in general election are female

By Noel McAdam

A third of candidates seeking to become Northern Ireland MPs in the general election are female.

The proportion of women is now at 33% - 36 out of a total of 109 hopefuls - well up on the last Westminster poll in 2015, when the figure was under a quarter.

However, nationalists remain well ahead of unionists in terms of nominating females to run, with Sinn Fein one candidate ahead of the SDLP.

Sinn Fein has seven - Mairead O'Donnell (East Belfast); Michelle Gildernew (Fermanagh and South Tyrone); Elisha McCallion (Foyle); Jacqui Russell (Lagan Valley); Cara McShane (North Antrim); Therese McCartney (North Down), and Carole Murphy (Strangford).

The SDLP is running six women - Margaret McKillop (East Antrim); Stephanie Quigley (East Londonderry), Mary Garrity (Fermanagh and South Tyrone); Caoimhe McNeill (North Down), Roisin Lynch (South Antrim) and Margaret Ritchie (South Down).

The DUP and Ulster Unionists have only four altogether - Emma Little Pengelly (South Belfast) and Diane Forsythe (South Down) for the DUP, and Hazel Legge (Belfast East) and Alicia Clarke (West Tyrone) for the UUP.

Meanwhile, the Alliance Party will be running nine women, including its leader Naomi Long in East Belfast.

Their other female candidates are Noreen Campbell (Fermanagh and South Tyrone); Fay Watson (Mid Ulster); Jackie Coade (Newry and Armagh); Patricia O'Lynn (North Antrim); Paula Bradshaw (South Belfast); Kellie Armstrong (Strangford), Tara Doyle (Upper Bann) and Sorcha Eastwood (West Belfast).

Editor's Viewpoint

Growing number of Northern Ireland women vying for seat at Westminster reflects the changing face of workplace 

Now the general election battle is poised to begin in earnest as nominations across all 18 constituencies have closed.

The number of candidates chasing seats has gone down by almost 30 since the last Westminster poll two years ago.

Then, 138 individuals put their names forward - for this election it is 109. That represents a one-in-six chance for candidates, although some constituencies have more would-be MPs seeking election than others. But only three of the parties - Sinn Fein, the SDLP and Alliance - are giving their supporters a chance to vote in every constituency.

The DUP is standing aside in Fermanagh and South Tyrone while the Ulster Unionists are not contesting North Belfast, West Belfast or Foyle. The party has also withdrawn from North Down where it said independent unionist Lady Hermon - a former UUP member - enjoys overwhelming support.

She is one of four independent candidates. The Green Party and the Conservative Party are both fighting seven seats, People Before Profit two seats, and Traditional Unionist Voice (TUV) just one.

This represents a sharp reduction for the TUV, who fielded 10 candidates in 2015, and for the Conservatives, who ran 16 here at the last general election.

A single candidate is standing for the Citizens Independent Social Thought Alliance, formed by ex-members of the Cannabis Is Safer Than Alcohol party.

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