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Last Updated: Friday, 10 February 2006, 15:00 GMT
Baroness gets listeners' vote
A west Belfast community worker who now sits in the House of Lords has been declared "The greatest woman in Ulster".

Baroness May Blood was given the accolade by listeners of BBC Radio Ulster's Talk Back programme.

Baroness May Blood
Baroness May Blood is a long time community worker

During the past week, listeners were asked to vote for the person who most deserved the title.

There were a host of nominations, from politicians and careworkers to stay-at-home mums.

But there was only one winner - and she was very gracious in accepting the honour.

"I am accepting it today on behalf of all the women in Northern Ireland," said the baroness during a special ceremony at Belfast City Hall.

"We don't very often get this amount of publicity and everyone that was nominated and those that weren't nominated have done a brilliant job."

Baroness Blood has been involved in cross-community and trade union work for more than 40 years - the last 10 in the greater Shankill area of Belfast.

In 1996, she was awarded an MBE for her work in labour relations and now holds honorary doctorates from the University of Ulster, the Open University, and Queen's University, Belfast.

Baroness Blood is a founder and former member of the Women's Coalition Party and in 1999, she became the first woman in Northern Ireland to be given a life peerage.

Raising a glass to her latest accolade, Talk Back presenter David Dunseith said it had been a "great week for voting in Ulster".

"Talk Back's had the highest ever listening figures in its 20-year history and the votes for our greatest woman have been cast in droves," he said.

"Baroness Blood can now claim to be the only democratically elected politician in the House of Lords."

Other front-runners in the Talk Back poll were Irish President Mary McAleese - who is from north Belfast - former Mid-Ulster MP Bernadette Devlin McAliskey and Eileen Paisley, the wife of the DUP leader, Ian Paisley.



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