Northern Ireland Assembly
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Speaker welcomes increased number of female MLAs returned to the Assembly

The Speaker of the Northern Ireland Assembly, Mitchel McLaughlin MLA has expressed his delight at the significant increase in female Members returned during last week's Assembly elections and stressed the importance of building on it.

Thirty female Members were elected, compared to 20 elected in 2011 and 23 MLAs (including co-options) before the last Assembly was dissolved.

The Speaker said: "During my time in office, a number of initiatives attempted to raise the fact that female representation in the Assembly failed to reflect the make-up of the wider population, building on the report by the Assembly and Executive Review Committee into "Women in Politics".

"I am therefore delighted to see that the number of female Members elected last week has increased by 50% and that female candidates were clearly demonstrated to be vote winners. While we still have a long way to match the 51% of the population who are female, this is nonetheless a significant rate of progress. I congratulate all 108 Members who were elected but I particularly look forward to the contribution that significant female presence will make.

"I hosted the first Assembly Women's Week in March as the last Assembly drew to a close but it left a legacy through the formation of both the Speaker's Reference Group on a Gender Sensitive Assembly and the Assembly Women's Caucus. The welcome uplift in the number of women will be beneficial to those bodies as they attempt to encourage more women and consider the barriers which may exist. The need for female representation is now clearly on the political agenda but it will be vitally important to keep it there to ensure that the reduction of numbers at the next election does not disproportionately reduce female representation."

Notes to Editors:

Speaker McLaughlin remains in office until he presides over the election of his successor at the first sitting of the new Assembly.

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