Hobbs, Margaret Elizabeth (‘Madge’) Davison- (1949–91), barrister and civil rights activist, was born 13 June 1949 in Pittsburgh St. in the Shore Road area of north Belfast, eldest daughter of John Davison , plater, and Emily Davison (née Wilson). She was educated at Seaview primary school and Graymount secondary school. On leaving school she was appointed to the administrative staff of Gallaher's Tobacco Ltd. Although born into a working-class presbyterian family, she developed an early interest in communism and became a leading figure in the Connolly Youth Movement and the Communist Youth League of the Northern Ireland Communist Party. Following the reconstitution of the NICP, merging with the Irish Workers Party as the Communist Party of Ireland (CPI), she served for many years on the national executive committee, the national political committee, and the national women's committee.
In keeping with her passion for social and political justice, she joined the Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association (NICRA) in the late 1960s. She took part in demonstrations against US actions in Vietnam (on 18 May 1968 she threw herself in front of US servicemen marching in the lord mayor's parade in Belfast), attended the 1968 World Youth Festival in Bulgaria, and took part in breaking the Falls Road curfew (1970) and agitating for the release of the black American activist Angela Davis. By 1970 she had left her job at Gallaher's to work for the organisation on a full-time voluntary basis. After the internment of NICRA's chief executive officer, Kevin McCorry, in 1971, she effectively ran the head office and in 1976 she became the chief organiser. A member of the civil rights demonstration on Bloody Sunday in Derry (1972), she subsequently organised the placing there of a memorial to the victims. In 1973 she helped to lead an Irish delegation, 114 strong, to the World Youth Festival in Berlin. Together with Kevin McCorry, Edwina Stewart, and others, she organised the commemoration of the tenth anniversary (1977) of the founding of the NICRA, and helped to prepare NICRA records for depositing in the Linenhall Library, Belfast. Although her work at the NICRA office included the drafting of statements and press releases on a wide range of issues, she specialised in dealing with poverty cases arising from the rent and rates strike. In order to develop this interest, she returned to full-time study in 1980 and graduated from QUB (1983) with an LLB. After a further year of study at the Institute of Legal Studies, she was called to the NI bar. Meanwhile, as a member of the national executive committee of the CPI, she had collaborated in the CPI publication Breaking the chains: selected writings of James Connolly on women (1981).
As a barrister, she specialised in family law and campaigned to raise awareness about domestic violence and sexual offences. In 1990, for example, she brought victims of domestic and sexual violence to meet the lord chief justice of Northern Ireland, Lord Hutton. She also co-wrote a chapter on family and sexual matters in the Committee for Administration of Justice's handbook, and contributed to the Women's Law and Research Group. Although she originally viewed feminism as a distraction from the struggle for socialism, she supported a host of women's organisations including Women's Aid, the Belfast and Enniskillen Rape Crisis Centres, the Women's Education Project, the Women's Information Group, and the Northern Ireland Women's Rights Movement, which established the first women's centre in Northern Ireland. In addition, she was an active member of the Irish Anti-Apartheid Movement. Towards the end of 1990 she was offered a post with the Fair Employment Agency in Northern Ireland, but was unable to take this up because of the discovery that she had cancer; she died at Belfast City Hospital on 27 January 1991 within six weeks of the diagnosis. Her early death shocked the broad range of people whose lives she had touched.
She married (1970) John, son of Thomas Hobbs, factory worker, and Marie Hobbs (née Murphy); they had two sons, Jonathan and Niall.