Former UUP leader dies, aged 94

Former UUP leader dies, aged 94

The former leader of the Ulster Unionist Party Jim Molyneaux has died at the age of 94.

He was in charge of the UUP from 1979 to 1995.

James Molyneaux was a soldier in the Second World War and was among the first British troops to enter the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in 1945.

UUP leader Mike Nesbitt paid tribute.

“He brought a stability to the unionist party at a time when it was much needed,” he said.

Mr Nesbitt said the UUP had lost "one of its greatest''.

“Lord Molyneaux led the party during some of Northern Ireland’s most bloody and turbulent years, providing leadership not only to the Ulster Unionist Party during that time, but also to the country,” he said.

“He led for 16 years, a remarkable feat given the party had no fewer than four different leaders in the 16 years prior to him taking over. The stability he offered was critical, as was his unbending passion for securing Northern Ireland’s place within the Union. This was particularly key during the aftermath of the Anglo-Irish Agreement, a challenge of seismic proportions within Unionism.”

Mr Nesbitt said Lord Molyneaux’s experience in Bergen Belsen stayed with him for the rest of his life.

“I believe that experience crystallised the values that guided his political life,” he said.

“He was no showman, but a man of immense guile, playing the game of political chess, ignoring the cheap headlines to focus on strategic outcomes.

“The sight of Lord Molyneaux as Ulster Unionist Party leader wearing his medals as he laid the wreath on behalf of the party at the Cenotaph in London every Remembrance Sunday was a powerful image which epitomised the ideals of dignity and service which he embodied.

“On behalf of the party, I give thanks for a long life, well-lived, in dedicated service to the people.”


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