Obituary for Willie Thompson

William Thompson former MP for West Tyrone died on Sunday. Most of the great and the good of unionism turned out for his funeral. There are tributes to him here and here in the Newsletter. He was a man of firm unionist principles but more than that an utterly decent individual who also had an extremely strong and committed personal religious faith. He was heavily involved in Omagh Methodist church and also in the Faith Mission organisation. My only recollection of him was going to the leadership election after Jim Molyneaux resigned. I was over at the student house his son lived in at the time and he suggested walking down with me. He was good company for the walk but I never realised and he was too polite to tell me what a senior party member he was: less than two years later he became MP for West Tyrone. A post I remember hearing that he was fairly shocked to get when the nationalist vote split almost exactly evenly between SDLP and Sinn Fein allowing him to win. Willie, however, despite his shock served as a conscientious, hard working MP until defeated by Pat Doherty in 2001. He had previously represented Mid Ulster in the Stormont assemblies of the 1970s and 1980s.