Life Story for Oliver Napier

Sir Oliver Napier, who was the first leader of the Alliance Party in Northern Ireland, passed away on Saturday (July 2) aged 75.

Sir Oliver was one of the founding members of the moderate party which sought support from across the community.

He was the leader from 1973 until 1984.

Sir Oliver, who was a solicitor, held the post of legal minister during the short lived power-sharing Stormont Executive in 1974.

He made several attempts to win a Westminster seat for the party, coming within 1,000 votes of clinching the East Belfast constituency during the 1979 General Election. The seat was won by the D.U.P.’s Peter Robinson.

He stood unsuccessfully in North Down on two occasions.

In 1985 he was knighted in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list.

Alliance leader David Ford has led tributes to Sir Oliver.

He said: “Sir Oliver embodied the spirit of Alliance and he was the man who inspired me to join the party.

“He was a statesman and a visionary. His vision was of a united Northern Ireland and he put his heart and soul into bringing that about. He was ahead of his time but the vision he had is demonstrated in all the excellent work being done to improve community relations in Northern Ireland.”

Sir Oliver is survived by his wife Briege and nine children.

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