Election 2015 Northern Ireland

General election: Just under 25% of Northern Ireland candidates women

Arlene Foster
Image caption Arlene Foster has defended her party over its lack of female candidates for the 7 May election

DUP assembly member Arlene Foster has defended her party over its lack of female general election candidates.

The DUP is one of two Northern Ireland parties running more than five candidates but have no women contesting seats.

The DUP has 16 candidates and the other party - UKIP - has 10.

Just under 25% of Northern Ireland candidates in this year's election are women. One constituency - West Belfast - has nine all male candidates.

Only one has more female candidates that men - Fermanagh and South Tyrone. It has three women contesting the constituency and two men.

"We [the DUP] have a particular situation because we have eight incumbent MPs and they are all male and we are not going to turn around and say to them 'we think you should go because you're not female'," Ms Foster said.

'Bright women'

"And of course, unionism in general is quite conservative with a small 'c' in terms of women coming forward and getting involved in political life.

"What we need to to do is encourage more women to become involved in political life right across Northern Ireland."

Judith Cochrane, of Alliance, said her party already had "a culture of inclusivity that automatically leads to diversity".

"We haven't needed to put quotas in place or anything like that, we've had good strong female role models like my colleague Naomi Long," she said.

"When I served on Castlereagh council we had four councillors at the time, three of whom were female and that was without needing any quota system.

"We have some very bright and able women out there who often hold back and they just need that bit of encouragement."

Other parties with no women candidates are Cannabis is Safer than Alcohol, which is contesting four seats and People Before Profit which has one candidates.

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