Ex-UUP leader James Molyneaux dies

Published: Monday 9th March 2015 by The News Editor

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Former Ulster Unionist Party leader Lord Molyneaux has died at the age of 94, his party has announced.

James Molyneaux led the UUP from 1979 to 1995.

A soldier during the Second World War, he was among the first British troops to enter the Bergen Belsen concentration camp in 1945.

He was knighted in 1996 and became a life peer in 1997, taking the title Lord Molyneaux of Killead.

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.”

Published: Monday 9th March 2015 by The News Editor

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