Anne Dickson

Anne Dickson, née McCance, (1928 - )

Born in London and educated at Richmond Lodge School, Belfast, Dickson was originally involved in local government through membership of Newtownabbey Urban Council, 1964-9. In 1969 she was elected to Stormont for the constituency of Carrick, as the Official Unionist candidate. Direct rule was introduced from 1969-1973. She resigned from the Ulster Unionist party in 1972. The following year she was elected in the Assembly election of 1973 to South Antrim, standing as an Independent Unionist. She supported the premiership of Terence O’Neill and also the power-sharing Executive formed as a result of the Sunningdale Agreement. After the Unionist Party split over Sunningdale in 1973/4 Dickson joined the newly formed Unionist Party of Northern Ireland, along with other supporters of former Prime Minister Brian Faulkner. After Faulkner gave up the leadership of the UPNI in 1976, she succeeded as leader, becoming the first woman leader of a major political party in Northern Ireland. She contested the North Belfast constituency in 1979 in the Westminster election, although the seat was won by the DUP. Her liberal brand of politics attracted great hostility from loyalists and also from unionists within her party and her house was pipe bombed in August 1970 in an attack attributed to the UVF. After poor results in the local government elections, the UPNI disbanded in 1981 and Dickson retired from active politics. She continued in public life, however, serving as Chair of the Northern Ireland Consumer Council from 1985-1990. She was appointed CBE in the 1990 Birthday Honours. She continues to live at her home in Carrick.