Eileen Bell

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For The Irish bowler, see Eileen Bell (bowls).
Eileen Bell
2nd Speaker of the Northern Ireland Assembly
In office
8 May 2007 – 8 May 2007
Deputy Francie Molloy
(2007 - 2007)
David McClarty
(2007 - 2007)
John Dallat
(2007 - 2007)
Preceded by Lord Alderdice
Succeeded by William Hay
Member of the Northern Ireland Assembly
for North Down
In office
25 June 1998 – 7 March 2007
Preceded by New Creation
Personal details
Born (1943-08-15) 15 August 1943 (age 73)
Dromara, Northern Ireland
Political party Alliance
Alma mater University of Ulster
Occupation Public servant, politician

Eileen Bell CBE (born 15 August 1943) is a politician from Dromara, Northern Ireland. She was a former member of the Northern Ireland Assembly for North Down and former deputy leader of the Alliance Party.

Early life[edit]

Bell was born in Dromara and grew up in West Belfast. She was educated at the Dominican College, Belfast and the University of Ulster. She held a number of jobs including working in the Civil Service and later as Welfare Officer for the Community of the Peace People.

Political career[edit]

In 1986 she became General Secretary of the Alliance Party. Later in 1993 she won election to North Down Borough Council. She was later elected as one of two "top-up" members of the 1996 Northern Ireland Peace Forum and in the 1998 Northern Ireland Assembly elections won a seat in North Down.

In June 2001 Bell was appointed Deputy Leader of the Alliance by Séan Neeson, following the resignation of Seamus Close over disagreements on the party's direction. However Neeson himself soon resigned and Bell stood for the leadership as a traditionalist bridge-building candidate, against David Ford who was on the more consciously Liberal, internationalist wing of the party. At the Party's council Bell received 45 votes to Ford's 86 and she remained as the party's deputy leader. In the 2003 Assembly elections she retained her seat.

On 10 December 2005 it was announced that Bell would stand down as Deputy Leader of the party and not contest the next Assembly elections.[1]

Bell acted as the Speaker of the Assembly established by the Northern Ireland Act 2006 and of the Transitional Assembly established by the Northern Ireland (St Andrews Agreement) Act 2006. On 8 May 2007 she was appointed Speaker of the Northern Ireland Assembly (which had been suspended since 2002) only to be replaced that same day by William Hay.

Post Political career[edit]

After leaving political life Eileen Bell turned to a charity she had long supported and became Vice President and Legislative Advisor to Autism NI. She has been one of the driving forces behind a Lobby for an Autism Bill in Northern Ireland.


She was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the 2008 New Year Honours.


  1. ^ Gay row 'difficult' for Alliance BBC News, 10 December 2005
Party political offices
Preceded by
General Secretary of the Alliance Party of Northern Ireland
Succeeded by
David Ford
Preceded by
Seamus Close
Deputy Leader of the Alliance Party of Northern Ireland
2001 - 2006
Succeeded by
Naomi Long
Northern Ireland Assembly
Preceded by
New creation
MLA for North Down
1998 - 2007
Succeeded by
Stephen Farry
Political offices
Preceded by
John Alderdice
Speaker of the Northern Ireland Assembly
Succeeded by
William Hay