James Molyneaux (1920-2015)

James Molyneaux James Molyneaux (Baron Molyneaux of Killead) died this morning, aged 94. He led the Ulster Unionist Party from 1979 to 1995 and was a prominent member of the loyal orders.

Opposed to the Good Friday Agreement and critical of David Trimble who succeeded him as leader of the UUP, he later endorsed DUP candidates (including Jeffrey Donaldson who inherited his safe Lagan Valley Westminster seat for the UUP before defecting to the DUP).

Born in Killead, the village closest to Aldergrove airport, he even had his own seat with the choir in the local St Catherine’s parish church. During the Second World War he served in the RAF and witnessed the liberation of the concentration camp at Belsen.

About ten years ago, I sat beside him on a flight to Heathrow. He was heading over to the Lords. Before the plane’s door had closed he had already started a conversation, discovered that I had been a constituent, and as we munched our way through the bmi croissants and luke-warm tea, he fired questions at me and – unexpectedly – scribbled answers in a notebook he carried in his jacket pocket. My memory of that flight was of meeting a gentleman rather than a politician: engaging, polite, with an inquiring and curious mind.

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Photo by Burns Library

Alan Meban. Normally to be found blogging over at Alan in Belfast where you’ll find an irregular set of postings, weaving an intricate pattern around a diverse set of subjects. Comment on cinema, books, technology and the occasional rant about life. On Slugger, the posts will mainly be about political events and processes. Tweets as @alaninbelfast.