A CENTURY OF WOMEN - 1990’s
1990 marked a breakthrough: for the first time in Irish history a woman, Mary Robinson, was elected the President of Ireland. In May 1994, another historical event saw black women (and men) elected to the South Africa government for the first time. However, when a woman, Tansu Ciller, became Prime Minister of Turkey, feminist celebrations were muted as she did nothing to further women’s rights and was later accused of corruption.
The 1990s were a decade of major change for people in Northern Ireland; relative peace was achieved with the Republican and Loyalist ceasefires of 1994, initiating a peace process that resulted in the signing of the Good Friday Agreement in 1998. Women who had worked on cross-community initiatives, which emphasised politics written with a small ‘p’ now, saw opportunities to influence politics, with a capital ‘P’, becoming openly involved in formal politics. On the 1st of April 1996, a consultation paper was issued by the British Government, which listed 15 parties deemed entitled to take part in the 30th of May 1996 elections to peace talks. This listing of parties was seen by other political parties and groupings, as well as by some individual women, as undemocratic and restrictive, prompting them to challenge this ruling. The list was increased to 30 on 16th April 1996.
On the basis of this, the Northern Ireland Women’s Coalition (NIWC) was formed in April 1996 with the objective of increasing the representation of women who agreed with three principles: human rights, equality and inclusion. In the subsequent elections, the NIWC broke the mould of traditional male-orientated politics with their “Wave Goodbye to the Dinosaurs” slogan, and by winning two seats in the Peace Talks and in the Forum. In 1998, the NIWC won two seats in the newly formed Northern Ireland Assembly. Anne Carr became the first (NIWC) delegate in a constituency when she was elected to Down District Council (Newcastle electoral area). Success was later achieved in North Down in both Assembly and local authority elections, with the successful election of Jane Morrice and Patricia Wallace respectively. The NIWC was party to the Good Friday/Belfast Agreement, an international agreement that was signed by the British and Irish Governments and ratified by the other political parties involved (with the exception of the Democratic Unionist Party and the UK Unionist Party) at that time.
The 1994 paramilitary ceasefires marked a formal ending of political violence, but not an end to militarism, sectarianism and polarisation in practice. Nevertheless, both space and resources became available offering fresh opportunities and options for women. European funded PEACE programmes supported community-based employment and training initiatives; while the peace process allowed for new political ventures. Women had always been members of the established political parties (although rarely spokespeople) but now women who had previously rejected formal politics saw an opportunity to participate in politics and stand for elections on their own terms.
The wives, partners and families of political prisoners also experienced changes with the release of their husband or partner under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement. While welcomed and celebrated by the majority, this could give rise to unforeseen difficulties as portrayed in the drama ‘A Night with George’ produced in 2011. Reintegration of long-term serving prisoners could give rise to family tensions where women had been coping as independent decision-makers in the home.
Notwithstanding the ceasefire, sporadic violence continued over the course of the 90s, with a further 53 women killed in this decade. Just one year before the IRA ceasefire, an Irish Republican Army (IRA) bomb killed nine people (and the man who planted the bomb) on the Shankill Road in 1993. Over half of those killed were women and schoolchildren. One of the schoolgirls who walked behind a funeral cortege later studied Women’s Studies in the Shankill Women’s Centre. Retaliation to the Shankill bombing was swift, with the Loyalist Grey Steel massacre killing ten and injuring 57 people. While both these attacks, and others, took place before the 1994 ceasefires, the Canary Wharf bombing in London marked a temporary end to the IRA ceasefire, killing in the process and putting the peace process in jeopardy. The IRA ceasefire was reinstated in 1997. Just three months after the conclusion of the Good Friday/Belfast Agreement, a bomb placed by the Real IRA in Omagh city centre, in 1998, killed 29 and injured 220 people, a death toll higher than that of any single incident during the ‘Troubles’ (1968 to 1998). Susan McKay, a prominent feminist, was one of the journalists who reported on this incident.
It is understandable that the general public in Northern Ireland breathed a sigh of relief when the IRA ceasefire was announced in 1994. Over a period, dating back to the late 1980s, those directly involved had begun questioning the effectiveness and the rationale of the violence. In 1993, a Joint Declaration of Peace was issued by the British and Irish Governments. In August 1994, talks between the leaders of Sinn Fein and the Social and Democratic Labour Party culminated in the announcement of the ceasefires by the Irish Republican Army. In October of that year, the Combined Loyalist Military Command also called a ceasefire, bringing the Loyalist paramilitaries into the peace process.
Women who worked across the community and on women’s rights issues began to challenge politicians and to question the election process that would be likely to return male political leaders to the proposed peace talks. Prominent activists, such as Monica McWilliams, Avila Kilmurry and Bronagh Hinds, wrote to the Northern Ireland Secretary of State and the British Government about the need for women to be involved in the process. When the arrangements for the peace talks were announced, a meeting was organised in the People’s College, resulting in the formation of the NIWC. It was named the Coalition in order to emphasise its open and inclusive nature rather than being positioned as a more exclusive Party. It was also structured to represent women in a divided society, opting to have a joint leadership with one woman coming from a Catholic/Nationalist/Republican identity and the other from a Protestant/Unionist/Loyalist background. Monica McWilliams and Pearl Sagar were appointed as the first leadership, with Monica and Jane Morrice taking this arrangement forward in later years. Other organisations were also active on the issue of political representation; on the 4th of April 1996, the NIWRM issued a statement protesting, in the strongest possible manner, the undemocratic method of naming fifteen parties to stand. It noted, “this action excludes women’s organisations from standing their own candidates, it also excludes community and other groups, and other established political parties, all of whom have a democratic right to put forward candidates.”
The NIWC was not welcomed by many of the traditional political parties who saw them in part as an irritant and in part as representing a threat. While there were women in the community who preferred to support individual political parties, the NIWC highlighted the fact that there were many women that were competent, skilled and interested in politics, but who had been politically homeless given the narrowness of political representation in Northern Ireland. The NIWC remained active for a decade and during that time; it confronted sexist attitudes, encouraged women to participate in politics and prompted some political parties to examine their own policies on women and to stand more women forward as candidates in subsequent elections. However, no women candidates were elected in the 1997 Westminster general election and neither the SDLP, Ulster Unionist nor the DUP put women candidates forward for “safe seats”.
Whilst it can be argued that the election of more women per se is progress, there is also the argument that the political positions taken by successful women politicians have not always been progressive as their decision-making may reflect their personal background (including class and religion). The NIWC, however, made a notable contribution to the peace talks and the outcome of the Good Friday Agreement (GFA). Alongside raising the issue of women’s representation, NIWC fought for the inclusion of parties excluded from the Talks at various points (Sinn Fein, PUP and UCP); raised the issue of victims/survivors of the conflict; argued for the release of politically motivated prisoners; inserted clauses on integrated schooling, housing and support for community development; and drafted provision for a Civic Forum as an exercise in inclusive, participative democracy. The Peace Talks process also offered space for women to come forward into leadership positions in other political parties. Bairbre De Brun and Sinead O’Hanlon were prominent in Sinn Fein delegations; Brid Rodgers in the Social Democratic and Labour Party, and Dawn Purvis, who later became the leader of the Progressive Unionist Party, were active in seeking solutions to the legacy of violence. The appointment of Mo Mowlam M.P. by Prime Minister Blair in 1997 as the first-ever female Northern Ireland Secretary of State was also a breakthrough as was the much quieter role of Martha Pope as assistant to Talks Chairperson, Senator George Mitchell. The election of Mary Robinson as the first female President of Ireland in December 1990 also encouraged women’s interest in politics, as did the election of her successor Mary McAleese (who served from 1997 to 2011). Numerous women’s groups and organisations invited Mary Robinson and Mary McAleese to their centres in Northern Ireland and many women from the North were invited to visit Áras an Uachtaráin, the official residence of the President of Ireland.
Although the NIWC developed its policy positions within the framing of the three principles of human rights, equality and inclusion, the issue of abortion rights were discussed and debated by the Coalition for over a year, drawing in the views of women in the wider community. The NIWC produced a comprehensive policy, which incorporated the demand for adequate sex education, healthcare and childcare provision. It also advocated for a woman’s right to choose and to have control over her own fertility – a difficult decision in an organisation that encompassed a wide variety of opinions. Monica McWilliams, in particular, was targeted by the SDLP during elections, who sought to “expose” this aspect of NIWC policy. The hopes of pro-choice campaigners were dashed when Westminster Parliament declined to extend the 1967 Act to Northern Ireland, with an amendment to the Human Fertilisation & Embryology Act 1990, on a vote of 267 -131. In 1995, the Family Planning Association NI invited prominent legal experts and the International Planned Parenthood Federation to a one-day symposium, which provided the opportunity to examine all aspects of the various models of abortion legislation around the world. The booklet produced from this conference provided a comprehensive analysis of legal provision as well as options for change in Northern Ireland.
In 1995/1996, Nationalist and Unionist women were involved in an international project coordinated by British feminist, Cynthia Cockburn. The project involved women from a number of divided societies, including Northern Ireland, Israel, Palestine, Bosnia Hercegovina, with the first meeting taking place in Spain. Organisations involved from Northern Ireland were the Women's Support Network, Windsor Women's Centre, Shankill Women’s Centre, Ballybeen Women’s Centre and and Footprints Women’s Centre. Centre representatives included Anne Graham, Anne McVicker, Joanne Vance, Marie Mulholland, Joy Poots and Gillian Gibson, who worked alongside twelve women from the other countries. Exchange visits allowed for the sharing of experience of living and working in conflict situations as well as considering the contribution that women made towards peacebuilding and how women had been affected by the violence. Cockburn argued that women engaged in ‘transversal politics’, enabling them to work together on issues of common interest while respecting the difference in their political positions and aspirations.
In 1991, the first Gay Pride parade took place in Belfast, initially attracting some 60 participants. By the end of the decade, many more people joined the Pride parades. Women’s News continued to give coverage to issues relating to lesbian activities, such as Lesbians Organising Lesbian Activities (LOLA), women’s discos and cafes, Lesbian Parenting Support Group and Lesbian Line Open House. In April and May 1995, Lavender Links became one of the few drop-in spaces where women met socially to network and enjoy the space provided. Lavender Links also organised picnics. Lesbian Line continued to function and one participant, named Rose, said that working for Lesbian Line saved her life; she commented, “I worked during the day in a very Catholic environment which did not embrace diversity. So on Thursday evening my self-worth and self-esteem were enriched when I could converse with like-minded people. Thursday evening kept me sane.” (Threads, p41/42; 2008) Many lesbian women were involved in the various organisations and campaigns that made up women’s movement generally.
Marie Mulholland notes that in the early 1990’s Unison NI had a small LGB group. This began with a meeting and education workshop for members particularly those working in public health to learn about HIV & Aids and to dispel some of the myths and challenge the discrimination around those who had the virus. A group of about six LGB members continued to meet with the support of the Regional office and to attend Unison’s national LGB conferences in the UK. The group also had representation on the National LGB Committee of UNISON.
In 1993, the first-ever DERRY Pride Festival took place. Organised by a small group of lesbians and gay men in the city it had strong support from the leftwing and Republican communities in the city. The most striking image from that event was the repainting of the famous FREE DERRY Corner. The internationally renowned gable wall was painted bright pink and the slogan OUT & PROUD appeared in both Irish and English. The Festival opened with an Art Exhibition of works by local lesbian and gay artists and was opened by the female SDLP Mayor, Annie Courtney, which was a major endorsement of the city’s LGB community and brave step for this woman politician at the time. The festival also included poetry performances, a lesbian sex and sexuality awareness workshop, films and culminated in a disco on the Saturday evening.
It is also important to say that much of what became lesbian visibility was accomplished by lesbians who were politically active across many sectors and engaged with numerous other issues affecting the wider communities of the North. Feminists, human rights activists, domestic violence support activists, environmentalists, Irish republicans, anarchists and socialists. Their political analysis with their commitment to equality and anti-discrimination was the driving force in the progress that was won slowly, against enormous hostility at times and at no small cost to their own safety on many occasions. It took guts to be a lesbian in those decades (Marie Mulholland, 2018).
Women’s movement activist, Marie Query, spoke about how in “the 80s and 90s lesbians formed much of the leadership of the women’s movement in Belfast. Many of these women were ‘closeted’ for fear of disapproval and rejection by society, by their sisters and also a fear of losing custody of their children. They often opted to subsume their own issues in order to maintain solidarity within the women’s movement.” She also spoke about how Clár na Mbán (a network of Republican women) organised exchange visits between lesbians in Cork and Belfast, of Irish Queer and Equal and many other initiatives that were prompted by lesbian women during this period. Noting the scarcity of the history of lesbian women she suggested that a history project would be well worth the effort, “I imagine it would be supportive to younger lesbian women to know that we have always been active in fighting our oppression and would certainly serve as inspiration for them.”
On the social and economic front, the Equal Opportunity Commission commissioned a major survey, which was based on interviews and extensive research and resulted in the publication of the book Women’s Working Lives (1993). This examined eleven aspects of women’s working lives from unpaid work to childcare, employment and trade union involvement. In the introduction, John Kremer and Pamela Montgomery assert that “neither the Government nor employers were willing to take on board the problem faced by working mothers, far from advancing the cause of women’s rights many would argue that the political rhetoric which lauded traditional values and which described the family as the primary social institution during the Thatcher years was instrumental in further marginalising women workers and in halting progress along many equal opportunity fronts” (John Kremer and Pamela Montgomery, p5; 1993). The study examined the realities of working women’s lives; identifying real-life situations that women faced with regards to family life and caring responsibilities. They wrote about the blatant evidence of disregard, which both the government and employers showed towards the needs of the working woman, including most notably the continuing lack of adequate and accessible childcare provision. In addition, they pointed out that the “lack of improvement and serious, practical action to improve girls’ education and training as a preparation for work in general, and for non-traditions employment, remains apparent.” (Ibid; p8 1993) The minimum wage was introduced in 1999 and whilst this benefitted those earning less than £3.50 per hour (many of whom were women), many were concerned that the minimum wage rate would become the benchmark for some employers.
In 1998, a pilot study, Council Matters, Developing a Women’s Strategy in Local Councils, was carried out to established the level of action and commitment to a “women’s strategy”. It highlighted the fact that equal opportunity policy in local councils in Northern Ireland was limited to employee/employer obligations only. The study noted that the post of Women’s Officer, in Belfast City Council, held in 1984/5 was not re-established due to a boycott of council business. Similarly, the post held by Brigitte Qvist, as a community relations officer working with women’s organisation, was not re-established when she left in 1995. When Belfast City Council produced its Economic Development Strategy in May 1997, it announced a multi-million-pound development programme. The document emphasised the need for accountability and meaningful partnership and consultation but failed to engage in a full consultation with a wide range of women’s organisations. Women’s Centre grants were also being reduced at this time. Council Matters noted that the cost of glossy Council documentation and high profile conferences should be compared with the response to local needs and the commitment to existing services. Issues raised, at the Shankill Women’s Centre AGM in June 1997 were a case in point when it was noted, “that the city council funding had been reduced and that fundraising is a major detraction from the important work and services that the *centre provided.” The Council Matters Report held “that Derry City Council was a marked exception having employed Hilary Sidwell as Women’s Officer and having adopted an equality policy”.
With regard to accessing EU funding, the New Opportunities for Women (NOW) project opened up positive action training and education schemes for women in 1992. In 1993-1994, an introductory course in engineering was run in partnership with a college in Denmark, the Windsor Women’s Centre and Belfast Institute of Further Education (BIFHE). From this period on, women’s centres and organisations benefited from EU funding and new jobs and services were provided in what became known as the “women’s sector”. This was not without its problems, as those drawing down this funding (European Social Funds in the main) had to comply with complex bureaucratic requirements and time-consuming paperwork in order to secure resources for the projects. (Ruth Taillon 1992)
When it came to the growth of feminist ideas, it was clear that there were winds of change in the air when Rhonda Paisley (DUP) condemned Unionist ideology for its attitude toward feminism. In 1992, she wrote, “Women and the challenge of feminist issues are a threat to the overwhelming majority of men in the unionist ranks ….Feminism and Unionism remain miles apart. To say anything else is to fool ourselves”. (Field Day: p1515, Vol V; 2002).
Feminist thinking was developed in the 60s and 70s through Women’s Studies courses and publications as well as through practice in the women’s movement. It involved activists and academics in Europe, America and in the global South. By the early 1990s, Women’s Studies courses started to flourish in women’s centres, further education colleges and universities in Northern Ireland. Queens University Belfast (QUB) and the Ulster University (UU) ran a graduate course and offered the course in Belfast and Derry. In 1993, the Ulster University franchised their undergraduate course to Belfast Institute of Further and Higher Education (BIFHE) (now Belfast Met) which was delivered in partnership with Footprints Women’s Centre, the Shankill Women’s Centre, Greystone Community Centre, and Ballymena Women’s Aid alongside being provided in the central college premises at College Square East. Books in different disciplines were being published examining archives and the lost history of women. Feminist writers were making an impact in Ireland, North and South; they began to develop theory and to address the absence of women from so many areas of society.
The discipline of Woman’s Studies puts women centre stage and as Victoria Robinson noted: “This simple shift in theorising and teaching recognises that the politics of theory in terms of so-called objectivity of knowledge, has failed to recognise and validate the diversity of experience of over half of humankind” (p2 1993).
Regarding the cultural scene, greater space and potential opened up with the ceasefires and the peace process, however faltering. People moved about more freely and community life began to be more relaxed. New plays were written about the “Troubles” and entertainment, in the form of comedies continued. The Hole in the Wall Gang, for example, moved on from playing in Belfast social clubs to broadcasting on the BBC. Olivia Nash joined the group in 1994 to play the character of Ma in an early version of Two Ceasefires and a Wedding, which was first broadcast on BBC TV in 1995. The “gang” sailed close to the wind ridiculing both loyalist and nationalist hard line and sectarian outlooks. In 1999, Ulster Television (UTV) offered Nuala McKeever a comedy show in which she played many characters; it ran from 1999 to 2001, being written by Nuala and Sean Carson and later by Nuala, Neil Dougan and Jake O’Kane. The former neglect and lack of acknowledgement of Northern Ireland’s women’s writing is now being addressed by, amongst others, academics such as Fiona Coleman, Rebecca Pelan, Heather Ingman and Christine St. Peter, whose surveys throw much light on past as well as current female literary endeavour.
It was during this decade that social media began to take off. The earlier part of the decade saw an increase in people’s awareness of the potential of Information Technology. By the end of the 1990s, the use of the internet, emails and other forms of electronic communication was well underway. It is hard to imagine, looking back, that most small organisations relied on one or two people, usually women, who had typewriting skills. By 1995, women were being told, “Yes even the most computerphobic of you will have heard of media hype about the internet Superhighway, a revolution in information which will educate, corrupt, and solve your personal problems. Allow you to shop and access information from the four corners of the earth”. The article went on to say that many women considered computers to be a male arena and a survey carried out by Matrix Information and Directory Services on 1468 organisations revealed that only 30% of internet users were women. (Women’s News Dec 95/Jan 96)
- Mary Robinson is elected to the office of President of Ireland.(1990-1997)
- Mary Peters becomes Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE). This is to be extended to Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire (DBE) in 2000)
- Westminster Parliament declines to extend the 1967 Act to Northern Ireland on an amendment to the Human Fertilisation & Embryology Act 1990, on a vote of 267 -131. First Women-Only Taster Course in Science takes place at BIFHE
- Fermanagh Women’s Network (FWN) is established.
- Derry woman Bronagh Gallagher's career begins when she plays Bernie in the film The Commitments. Bronagh was a former hairdresser and amateur actor.
- Corrine Philpot QC becomes vice chairman of the Bar Council (1991 to 1993)
- The first Gay Pride march is held in Belfast with about 60 participants.
- The first major International Women Day event is held in the Belfast City Hall.
- The Women into Politics (WIP) project is proposed at a workshop titled 'Break the Silence: Women Speak Out' on International Women’s Day. This is organised by the Downtown Women’s Centre (Annie Campbell) in BIFHE.
- August: The Brook Advisory Centre opens.
- Polly Devlin, journalist writer and director is awarded the OBE for services to literature.
- Patricia (Pat) Brown is appointed as the Director of the Women’s Studies Certificate, which is franchised from the U.U to BIFHE.
- New Opportunities for Women (NOW) EU funding creates specific projects that target women.
- WOMEN’STEC is established to provide training for women in non-traditional skills in Northern Ireland.
- Myrtle Hill and Vivienne Pollock publish their book Image and Experience Photographs of Irishwomen c.1881-1920. (Blackstaff Press)
- Suzanne Breen wins Northern Ireland Journalist of the Year. She goes onto win other awards in future years.
- Mary McAleese becomes Pro-Vice-Chancellor of Queen’s University.
- March: International Women’s Day event; Angela Davis visits Belfast at the invitation of the Ulster University and the NIWRM.
- Joanne Vance is employed as the first “Women into Politics” worker in March, working with women’s centres and groups. The course 'Dialogue Across the City' starts in autumn.
- Clár na Mbán (Women’s Agenda) conference develops a Women's Agenda for Peace, at which women activists call on the political parties to ensure the inclusion of women in political discussion. Bernadette McAliskey speaks at the conference.
- Foyle Women’s Information Network (FWIN) is established.
- Actress Olivia Nash joins the Hole in the Wall Gang.
- May Blood, trade union and community activist, born in the Shankill area of Belfast, is appointed a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE).
- The FPA-NI holds a one-day symposium on abortion law in Northern Ireland
- Myrtle Hill is appointed Director of the new centre for women’s studies at QUB.
- Suzanne Breen wins Northern Ireland Feature Journalist of the Year (1995, 1996, 1997, 2010, 2016)
- NIWEP and National Women's Council of Ireland issue a joint north/south submission to the Forum for Peace and Reconciliation in Dublin.
- Women from NI attend the 4th UN World Conference on women in Beijing.
- A conference is held in Ulster University 'Women, Politics and ways Forward', during which women are able to exchange ideas and share their vision of the type of society they want to see.
- The EU Special Support Programme for Peace & Reconciliation (1995-1999) specifies women’s issues as a category for support.
- Training for Women Network (TWN) is established to promote training initiatives for women, various EU funded women’s training and education projects are established under this organisation.
- Helen Jackson MP for Sheffield is the guest speaker in the Windsor Women’s Centre; the topic is “Equality Policy in Local Government”. She also attends an event that is organised by the NIWRM in the Linen Hall Library.
- Thursday 15 February: the Irish Republican Army (IRA) leaves a five pound Semtex bomb in a telephone kiosk in the Charing Cross Road, London. Additional troops are flown into Northern Ireland to be deployed in the border areas.
- Friday 16 February: there is a large peace rally at City Hall, Belfast, and a number of smaller rallies at venues across Northern Ireland.
- Northern Ireland Women’s Coalition is formed. (NIWC) (1996-2006)
- 68 women contest the Peace talks and Forum election on behalf of the NIWC
- Monica McWilliams and Pearl Sagar represent the NIWC at the Peace talks and Forum on the basis of the Coalition being elected 9th out of the ten parties entitled to have two delegates at the talks. They are the only women sitting as of right at the Peace Talks.
- Mo Mowlam, Labour MP for Redcar, becomes the first women Secretary of State for Northern Ireland (1997-1999). She oversees the signing of the Good Friday Agreement.
- Helen Jackson MP for Hillsborough Sheffield becomes Mo Mowlam’s parliamentary secretary.
- Martha Pope is assistant to US Senator George Mitchell, chairperson of the Peace Talks
- NI Women’s European Platform urges the government to recognise the serious absence of women from party politics and to include on its list of parties registered to contest the election.
- Roisin McAliskey is arrested (while four months pregnant) on an extradition warrant issued by Germany accusing her of involvement in an attack against a British Army compound at Osnabrück. She is released from prison to give birth to a healthy daughter Loinnir. On 2 January 1998, a magistrate clears her extradition after a long campaign in which her mother takes a leading role by gathering support from influential citizens, including politicians, from Ireland and the United States.
- The Irish Women’s Studies Network is launched.
- The Irish Journal of Feminist Studies is launched.
- Building Bridges project with women from Northern Ireland, Israel, Palestine, and Bosnia Hercegovina. The main organisations involved in Northern Ireland are the Women's Support Network, Windsor Women's Centre, Shankill Women’s Centre, Ballybeen Women’s Centre and Footprints Women’s Centre.
- Mary McAleese is the first Northern Woman to become the President of Ireland.
- Anne Carr (NIWC) is elected to Down District Council.
- The Good Friday Agreement (GFA) is agreed and ratified by referenda North and South as the settlement is reached by the majority of Northern Ireland's political parties and the British and Irish Governments in April 1998.
- The Northern Ireland Assembly is formed.
- NIWC candidates Monica McWilliams and Jane Morris are elected to the NI Assembly with a total of 3,024 votes.
- Thirteen women are elected to the Northern Ireland Assembly from a range of parties
- Under the Good Friday Agreement (GFA), the Equality Commission (EQ) is established, replacing the EOC and Fair Employment Commission. (Some within the women’s movement felt this to be a backward move because the EQ oversees all aspects of legislation dealing with equality and discrimination.)
- Nuala McKeever leaves the Hole in the Wall Gang. 1798 The Comedy is her last job with them. She is offered her own television show on Ulster Television called McKeever.
- A collection of short stories Women Are The Scourge Of The Earth is published, written by Frances Molloy (1947 – 1991)
- The Family Homes and Domestic Violence (Northern Ireland) Order 1998 allows women to apply to the court for protective civil orders such as non-molestation orders and occupation orders.
- Suzanne Breen is given an award for outstanding journalism by women on the island of Ireland
- May Blood becomes the first woman from Northern Ireland ever to be awarded a life peerage.
- Inez McCormack becomes the first female President of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions.
- Rosemary Nelson (née Magee; 4 September 1958 – 15 March 1999), a prominent Irish human rights solicitor, is assassinated by an Ulster Loyalist paramilitary group. A public inquiry finds no evidence that state forces directly facilitated her murder, but cannot exclude the possibility that individual members helped the perpetrators. It states that the RUC failed to protect her and that she had been publicly threatened and assaulted by officers, which helped legitimize her as a target.
- Marie Moore became the first Sinn Fein representative to be elected Deputy Lord Mayor (1999-2000). She is the first Deputy Lord Mayor to open International Women’s Day event in the year 2000 in the Ulster Hall.
- Marie Therese McGivern becomes the Director of Development in the Belfast City Council.
- Bairbre de Brún becomes the Minister of Health and Social Services and Public Safety in the Stormont Assembly.
- The Gender Reassignment Regulations (Northern Ireland) 1999 amended the Sex Discrimination Order to make it unlawful to discriminate on grounds of gender reassignment (sex change) in employment and training.
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(April/May1996) LOLA lalalala LOLA and Dykish Events…..(Page 14)