In alphabetical order, these are my top eight inspirational women in the North of Ireland – I tried for ten but struggled.
Known more as Gerry Adams’ niece, but not so much as a victim of child sex abuse. Áine goes on the list because of her strength in seeking justice. She’s been made out to be a liar and been let down by the police but remained determined to see her father behind bars. She’s even had the anti Sinn Féin element try to hijack her cause – but she has emerged out of this with dignity and respect.
I used to read Alison’s ‘Life and all that’ column when she was a rookie reporter working for the Andersonstown News. I think she’s a brilliant journalist and columnist. She’s been hit on the head with bricks at riots and had death threats – but nothing seems to stop her. An ambitious mother who succeeds in a male dominated trade.
Dawn gets my nod and has done for a long time. Her unashamed position of being pro choice earns my vote. Even though the public execution of Bobby Moffett pushed her out of politics – the PUP just doesn’t seem the same without her at the top. I’d love to see her fixing Winkie’s wagon. She’s one of the more down to earth loyalist women.
Jennifer’s work in the Colin area puts her on a par with the late Michael Ferguson. She has fully earned her Junior Minister role. I like how a lot of her work features combating poverty. Mothers warm to her and young nationalists look up to her. She would have been the ideal candidate to make a statement on behalf of the party to acknowledge children who were abused by PIRA members. But they slipped up here by denying it full stop.
Lynda is not very well known outside the feminist circle. She taught me ‘Women in Irish history’ at college. She showed me that feminism is not ‘man bashing’ but about men and women who believe in equality between the sexes. Lynda comes from Sheffield but makes this list because she’s been over here campaigning for women’s rights since the 70’s.
Her guttsy attitude in the wake of the flag protests has put Naomi up there with the best of them. On every televised debate, she has taken down the DUP with ease. On Twitter she answers every tweet she gets – unlike other politicians with selective vision. I hope she holds onto her East Belfast seat.
I first heard Patricia speak at an anti war rally in Belfast and later at a Stop the Slaughter rally for the people of Gaza. The reason she is top dog at Unison is clear to be seen and heard. With her fighting your corner, you’d never be sacked. She is fearless and would put you in mind of a left wing Maggie Thatcher. I’d love to see her punch the head off Katie Hopkins.
Last but not least. For the past two years, Una has been leading a campaign to make women in NI aware of the symptoms of ovarian cancer. Until I came across Una, I did not know anything about this terrible silent killer. This week she was dealt a bad blow by the Health Minister but she won’t take it lying down. I’ve a feeling Una will get her dying wish.