Centenary of Representation of the People Act marked

Tuesday 6 February 2018

Mid and East Antrim Borough Council is celebrating the centenary of the Representation of the People Act.

Mid and East Antrim Logo

The Act of 1918 gave some women the vote for the first time and paved the way for the introduction of universal suffrage 10 years later, which saw women win equal voting rights to men.

Elected Members agreed to proceed with a series of important events throughout 2018 to mark the milestone, 100 years on.

During the monthly meeting of the Council, Deputy Mayor Councillor Cheryl Johnston took the chair and paid tribute to all of those involved in the fight for greater equality for all.

Councillor Johnston said afterwards: “Those behind the Representation of the People Act provided the catalyst for change.

“The importance of their achievements cannot be overstated and changed the course of history.

“It is so important that they are remembered by current and future generations, so that the rights of all citizens to have their voices heard is never taken for granted.

“As a young woman, it would have been unheard of for me to occupy the position of Deputy Mayor, representing and campaigning on behalf of all our citizens.

“One hundred years on from the Representation of the People Act, I thank those brave visionaries who overcame incredible odds and resistance for the greater good of all.”

The Representation of the People Act was passed on 6 February 1918. 

The Act reformed the electoral system and widened suffrage by granting the vote to women over the age of 30 who owned property, and all men over the age of 21.  It also instituted the present system of holding general elections on one day and the introduction of the annual electoral register. 

Throughout the UK there will be events to mark the anniversary. The celebrations will focus on this and other milestones in the UK’s democratic history. Parliament is taking the lead with a ‘Vote 100’ project. This will include a major exhibition, talks and tours, plus events around the UK.

Plans outlined to Mid and East Antrim councillors include regional celebrations headed up by the Department for Communities and aimed at celebrating the centenary, educating young people on its significance and building a legacy for the future by encouraging young women into political and public life.

Among the events planned by Council is a special presentation and workshops to mark International Women’s Day.

Chief Executive of Mid and East Antrim Borough Council, Anne Donaghy, said: “I am passionate about equality and ensuring all of our citizens are provided the same opportunities.

“The Representation of the People Act was the first step on an incredible journey.

“So many women risked their homes, families and freedom to fight for democracy and equality.

“They faced down discrimination, inequality and harassment, ultimately achieving universal suffrage.

“Our Council has a series of events planned to mark this hugely significant anniversary and the impact this move had on subsequent generations.

“It is absolutely crucial that people are given a voice and that voice is heard.

“Thanks to those pioneers, we all have an input into decisions affecting us all and the opportunity to shape our own futures.”