More than just tea ladies! : the role of women in the Northern Irish Peace Process 1990-2000

  • Maria Helen Dalton

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis (PhD)


What is a tea lady? Tea ladies are often popularly understood as marginal figures. However, throughout the 1990s peace process in Northern Ireland, women who were referred to as the ‘tea ladies’ by skeptical male counterparts were central figures in the Province’s path towards peace and reconciliation. This thesis explores the role of women as peacemakers and peacebuilders in 1990s Northern Ireland. It offers a multi-level analysis of women’s contributions at the community, political and British governmental level. Through the use of interview data and archival evidence, this thesis plays an important role in restoring women’s voices and experiences to the historical record. The argument put forward is that, in order to fully understand and appreciate many of the contributions made by the women discussed in this thesis, it is vital to consider the impact of ‘micro-gestures’ and daily occurrences, whether they be the toss of a wig, a hug, or a friendship spawned from an interface Christmas party. In order to fully appreciate the significance of the achievements made by peacemakers and peacebuilders, whether they be male or female, attention must be given to the barely visible and the unquantifiable- the violence that did not happen, the lives that were not lost. As well as offering a detailed women’s history of the Northern Irish Peace Process, this thesis will engage with wider theorizations on gender and peacemaking and illustrate the ways in which gender has the potential to impact change at the peace table.
Date of Award28 Jul 2020
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of St Andrews
SupervisorTimothy Keith Wilson (Supervisor) & Taryn Daniella Shepperd (Supervisor)


  • Northern Ireland conflict
  • Women, peace and security
  • Peace processes
  • Northern Ireland history

Access Status

  • Full text embargoed until
  • 30th April 2025

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