Northern Ireland Women's Coalition

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Northern Ireland Women's Coalition
Leader Monica McWilliams
Pearl Sagar
Founded 1996 (1996)
Dissolved 2006 (2006)
Ideology Feminism
Political position Centre

The Northern Ireland Women's Coalition (NIWC) was a minor political party in Northern Ireland. It was founded in 1996 by Catholic academic Monica McWilliams and Protestant social worker Pearl Sagar to contest the elections to the Northern Ireland Forum, the body for all-party talks which led to the Belfast Agreement. The party did not espouse a particular ideology and campaigned principally around the fact that it was led by women rather than men.[1] It declined to take any position on whether Northern Ireland should be part of the United Kingdom or the Republic of Ireland, but strongly opposed sectarian violence from both sides. It attracted support from former supporters of the Alliance Party of Northern Ireland, but also the Social Democratic and Labour Party and the Ulster Unionist Party.

In the 1996 Forum elections, McWilliams, Sagar and eight other Coalition candidates secured 7,731 votes (1.03% of the total) and did not win any constituency seats, but under a 'top-up' mechanism to ensure the representation of minor parties they were awarded two seats as Members of the Northern Ireland Forum, taken by McWilliams and Sagar. They attended the negotiations dominated by the other 108 representatives and supported (but did not, as often reported, sign) the ensuing intergovernmental Belfast (Good Friday) Agreement. The party claimed credit for the inclusion of a commitment to integrated education in the agreement, as did the much larger Alliance Party.

In the 1998 Northern Ireland Assembly election, the NIWC secured 13,018 votes (1.6%)[2] and McWilliams, representing South Belfast, and Jane Morrice, representing North Down, were elected to the inaugural Northern Ireland Assembly. The party secured 3,301 votes (0.4%) and one council seat in the Northern Ireland local elections, 2001;[3] McWilliams also stood unsuccessfully as a candidate in the United Kingdom general election, 2001, securing 2,968 votes (0.4% of the Northern Ireland total).[4]

Both its MLAs lost their seats in the 2003 Assembly elections, when the party's vote fell to 5,785 (0.8%),[5] and its last remaining elected representative lost her seat on North Down Borough Council in 2005 when the NIWC secured 0.1% of the Northern Ireland vote.[6] The party never contested another election and on 11 May 2006 the Women's Coalition was formally wound up at a function held in Belfast.[7]


  1. ^ [1] Conciliation Resources website article by Kate Fearon (2002), "Northern Ireland Women’s Coalition: institutionalizing a political voice and ensuring representation"
  2. ^ Northern Ireland Assembly Elections 1998
  3. ^ Local Government Elections 2001
  4. ^ 2001 Westminster Elections
  5. ^ Northern Ireland Assembly Elections 2003
  6. ^ Local Government Elections 2005
  7. ^ The Irish Times, 12 May 2006, "After 10 years, the party's over for Women's Coalition in North"

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