Politics in Northern Ireland suffers from a dearth of female representation, a problem that has traditionally been more acute within unionist parties than their nationalist counterparts (Galligan and Wilford, 1999, ‘Women and Politics’. In Mitchell, P. and Wilford, R. (eds) Politics in Northern Ireland, Oxford, Oxford University Press). This is despite the aim of the 1998 Good Friday Agreement to establish equality provisions for women. This article draws upon substantive and unique access to data gathered from an extensive membership study of Northern Ireland's largest party, the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) (Tonge, J., Braniff, M., Hennessey, T., McAuley, J., and Whiting, S. (2014) The Democratic Unionist Party: From Protest to Power, Oxford, Oxford University Press) to explore how attitudes towards female representation impact upon inequalities in gender representation in Northern Ireland. Exploring how women have fared in the ‘new’ Northern Ireland since 1998, this article examines the position of women within party politics and utilises interview and survey material on the DUP. The article identifies a more progressive cohort within the party membership that wants to see more gender equality. Yet, the legacy of the peace process has meant positive discrimination remains anathema to the vast majority within Northern Ireland's largest political party.
- The Democratic Unionist Party
- Gender Politics
- Peace Process
- Northern Ireland