Richard Ferguson, a success story in London but a great loss to Northern Ireland

It seems to be a season for catching up on obits. Dick Ferguson QC rose to the top of the lawyer’s tree on both sides of the water, as defence counsel in some of this era’s most notorious murder trials . The Fergusons, it may be necessary to remind people, were prominent Fermanagh Unionists. Cousin Raymond was a member of the 1982 Assembly and chairman of Fermanagh Council. Another relative was Harry West, the former Unionist leader. Dick was in a less conventional mould, a remarkable talent but also perhaps partly because of his particular abilities, lacking the emotional stamina to thrive as a liberal unionist public figure in the narrow ground of Northern Ireland. As a young Stormont MP at the start of the Troubles, he seemed the ideal pro O’Neill standard bearer for a younger generation but cracked under the strain and quit active politics. Later as a leading local QC, he abruptly quit a supergrass case and moved to London. Divorced and eventually remarried, he made a whole new social and professional life for himself in London, even more successful than the last. Retaining a hint of his boyish good looks into his seventies, he died prematurely at 73. It’s a game many of us play, to spot those of our own doing well in the wider world. Dick Ferguson’s departure for London was Northern Ireland’s great loss. While there were personal issues in his move, it is a reproach to our community that he could only find himself in exile, even to the extent of opting for burial in Highgate cemetery.

  • Glencoppagagh

    Brian
    A lawyer making a generous living from legal aid is no loss to anywhere, much less NI. We have plenty more of them left unfortunately.

  • Skintown Lad

    Interesting read, thanks Brian. I wonder is Ulster Unionism now at a place where they are crying out for a liberal-minded but charismatic type like Dick Ferguson?

  • mappist trunk

    I wonder is Ulster Unionism now at a place where they are crying out for a liberal-minded but charismatic type like Dick Ferguson?

    An Ulster Cameronian?

  • borderline

    Aye,

    what Ulster Unionism needed was a smart establishment barrister cogently arguing the cause of the continuance of the Ascendancy, coz, y’know, there’s a massive gap in the market there……….

  • Duncan Shipley Dalton

    [i]what Ulster Unionism needed was a smart establishment barrister cogently arguing the cause of the continuance of the Ascendancy, coz, y’know, there’s a massive gap in the market there……….[/i]

    Lol. Very funny.

  • Dunc I haven’t heard from you in ages. Still in Beantown?

    yeah what’s the expression that Rob McCartney comes out with… “…I’m a QC, you know”.

    I can’t stand those obnoxious, arrogent legal types, doncha agree? Nothing compared to doctors, nurses, chewing-gum-off-the-ground pickers or paint-drying watchers.

  • Duncan Shipley Dalton

    Nope moved back to the UK last year. Sitting on my arse in Southampton propping up the unemployment numbers and bored out of my mind. Would love to come back to NI but no money and no job make it an impossibility right now. Yes can’t stand those barrister types though…mind you that does include me.:)

  • CW

    “…even to the extent of opting for burial in Highgate cemetery.”

    Ironic that he should be buried in the same place as Karl Marx.