James Leslie dies…

News has been circulating Stormont all morning that former MLA for North Antrim James Leslie has died whilst on holiday. I met him several times, usually on the High Street in Holywood. The last time was last month when both his young daughter and mine stood with as much patience as they could muster in the blustery January wind, whilst we talked politics for as long as we dared. I did not know him well, but he struck me as one of those few (very few) politicians in Northern Ireland who have not one tribal bone in their bodies. As such he will be much missed for those of us who think that such things matters to Northern Ireland’s future, whichever way it goes. My deepest sympathy to his family and friends.

  • Julian Robertson

    A nice guy indeed. Very, very sad and will be sorely missed.

  • slug

    It is very sad news and he did seem to me a very good man.

  • Alex. Kane

    James was a genuinely decent and thoroughly likeable man and one of the real strengths of the UUP’s Assembly team from 1998 to 2003.

    I shall miss his ‘phone calls, along with the chats in Holywood and outside the gates of the school which our daughters attended.

    A very sad day.


  • “A former junior minister in the Northern Ireland Assembly has died during a diving holiday in Costa Rica, it was revealed today.

    James Leslie, 50, was the Ulster Unionist Assembly member for North Antrim.

    Married with one daughter, Mr Leslie served as junior minister in the office of the First Minister and Deputy First Minister.

    He was a keen hill walker and sailor who worked in merchant banking in Hong Kong before his spell in office during the first term of the Assembly in 1998.” … breakingnews.ie

  • Peter Bowles

    James was indeed a thoroughly decent person and his contributions will be greatly missed.

  • James was a gentleman who always preferred to play the ball rather then the man.

    I am sure he was excited about the prospect of a UUP-Tory alliance.

    May he rest in peace.

  • Mark Neale

    James was a real decent guy. He was a politician who sought the best for his constituents and the people of Northern Ireland while sticking to his principles. yet doing so without causing offence.

    A true gentleman, NI politics will be the poorer without him

  • fair_deal

    My sympathies to his family

  • frustrated democrat

    James was a good friend and will be sadly missed.

    We are all the worse for not having him here to hopefully see the revamped UUP and the Conservatives working together; which was his great desire.

    Let the new pact be a testament to the work he did and the principles he held.

  • S Richmond

    Very sad. He was a true gent.

  • William

    I thought the big news on the poticial front today was the decision of David Burnside to resign his MLA position, due to him wishing to concentrate on his business interests. However, that news pales into insignificance as I learn of the death of James….a young man of 50 years cruelly cut down in the prime of his lif. My deepest sympathy is extended to his wife and young family and to the extended Leslie family on this tragic loss.

  • Peter Brown

    James Leslie was indeed a true gent – a man who could have been a throwback to the bad old days of big house unionism but who instead served in the rank and file of the UDR and never for me at least refused a speaking engagement at a Branch meeting no matter how small or insignificant.

    Someone for whom politics was a vocation not a career and who never turned his nose up at the prospect of canvassing any area – a man who despite his roots and accent had the common touch. Who can ever forget the 1997 Westminster literature with the photos with the dog!?

    Our politics may not always have been the same but we never had a cross word and I am glad to have been his agent for the 1998 Assembly elections – so sad that he is cut down just as he was about presumably to re-enter the political stage and my sympathies to hsi wife and family

  • James was indeed a true gentleman. He managed to be both a liberal and a Conservative! My sympathies to his family, he will be sadly missed.

  • Paul Leeman

    James will be sadly missed.I met him two years ago during the Assembly Elections and immediately realised him to be a genuine and sincere person and had no problem spending many hours canvassing for him.God Rest.

  • Danny O’Connor

    May God have mercy on Him. James was a truly decent and genuine man.My deepest sympathy to his family.

  • Cushy Glenn

    Essentially too nice to make it in politics
    Knifed by pygmies in his UUP association
    Sympathy to his family