As the saying goes behind every good man, there’s an even better woman, and a local councillor is championing a project which is encouraging more women to get into the male dominated world of politics.
DUP councillor Michelle Knight-McQuillan was co-opted in to brother-in-law Adrian’s Coleraine Borough Council seat just before Christmas, she’s already found her feet and is enjoying life as a Coleraine councillor.
Michelle, a mother of two, is no stranger to political life, in her day job she works for MLA Adrian McQuillan as a Constituency Research Officer.
Last week the Aghadowey woman was part of a group of women , from across the Province, who visited the European Parliament as part of the EU funded project, ‘Women in Politics’.
It aims to build confidence in women involved in community work and in politics in Northern Ireland. During the trip, the group met DUP MEP Diane Dodds and got a tour of the impressive Leopoldruimte complex. Their next trip will be to Westminster.
“The project involves a number of newly elected councillors and community workers,” explained Michelle.
“It highlights the links between communities and politics at all levels - Council, Stormont, Westminster, European Parliament, and the different part each level plays in shaping things.
“It has been really enjoyable, and I think it will really help me develop for the good of the people that I represent.
“The project shows community workers that they are involved in political life, whether they see it that way or not. From my point of view, as a councillor my job is to help others in my community, and that means so much to me being able to help someone no matter how trivial it may be.”
But what has the Coleraine councillor learned from the project?
“So often when women go into politics they begin to think like a man,” said Michelle.
“This is about accepting women as they are, encouraging women not to change to fit in to a male dominated profession.
“I don’t think I have changed since I have taken up my post in Council.
“I believe now that I am doing things just as I have always done, The only difference is that now have a better platform to stand up and speak up about things that I believe in.”