NEW Alliance MLA Naomi Long has thanked the people of East Belfast for making her their first ever female representative for the whole constituency, and her party the one with the highest percentage of female MLAs.
Mrs Long said: “I would like to thank everyone who entrusted me to represent them. I pledge to work for the entire community, as that my support came from right across the board.
“While the pundits had Alliance written off last Thursday, I was delighted to see every other member re-elected, leaving Alliance the only moderate party not to lose seats, and the only party of the centre in the Assembly. We will now go into this review positively and continue our work to build a united community.
“It is an honour to be the first woman to represent the whole East Belfast constituency, and Alliance now has the best gender balance of any Assembly party. One third of our MLAs are female and almost 40 percent of our councillors are female – higher than any other party.
“While Alliance has always been an inclusive party, it is disappointing that others, particularly unionists, have not done more to promote women in politics. Together with Eileen Bell, Alliance’s deputy leader, I will encourage more women to come forward. It is quite clear from our record that women who want to be involved in politics at all levels will find a warm welcome in Alliance.”
The percentage of each party’s female representation in the Assembly: Alliance 33%; Sinn Fein 29%; SDLP 28%; UUP 7.5% and DUP 6.5%