Women parliamentarians of Northern Ireland

First female Speakers


Eileen Bell

Eileen Bell

Image: Northern Ireland Assembly Commission

Gender balance in the Northern Ireland Assembly after the 2003 election: 17% women, 83% men.

Eileen Bell was a member of the Alliance Party, to which she was appointed General Secretary in 1986.

She served as MLA for North Down from 1998 until 2007 and in 2006 became the first female Speaker of the Assembly.

Eileen Bell had previously worked as a civil servant, a Welfare Officer for the Community of the Peace People and was Co-ordinator of the Peace Train Organisation.

After leaving the Assembly, she became Vice-President and legislative advisor to the charity Autism NI, Vice-President for the Townswomen’s Guilds for Northern Ireland, and a Board Member and Volunteer for the Training for Women Network.


Jane Morrice

Jane Morrice

Image courtesy of Hearts and Minds for Europe

Gender balance in the Northern Ireland Assembly after the 1998 election: 13% women, 87% men.

Jane Morrice was a founding member of, and played a prominent role in, the NIWC.

She was elected to the Assembly in 1998 for North Down and became Deputy Speaker in 2000.

She went on to be Vice-President of the European Economic and Social Committee, Deputy Chief Commissioner of the Equality Commission, a Director of the Integrated Education Fund, and Honorary (Hon) President of the European Movement NI.


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