Alliance Leader David Ford has paid tribute to Sir Oliver Napier who passed away today. Sir Oliver was a founder of Alliance, Leader of the Party from 1973 to 1984 and an Alliance Minister in the 1974 Stormont powersharing Executive.
David Ford said: “This is an extremely sad day for Northern Ireland. On behalf of the entire Alliance Party, I want to pass on deepest sympathies to Sir Oliver’s family at this very difficult time. Oliver embodied the spirit of Alliance and he was the man who inspired me to join the party.
“Oliver 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.
“Oliver led the way in building the pathway to peace and was the Leader of Alliance when the party entered government for the first time in 1974. He also came very close to becoming Alliance’s first elected Westminster MP in 1979 in the East Belfast election. He will be remembered as a great political leader, as a tireless servant of East Belfast and as the man who built the Alliance Party. I know he took great delight in being able to support Naomi Long when she was elected MP for East Belfast last year and in seeing two Alliance Ministers in the current Executive.
“Sir Oliver was very highly respected and popular with everyone who had the pleasure of knowing him. His legacy can be seen right at the heart of the party to this day and he will very sadly missed.”
Alliance Deputy Leader Naomi Long MP said: “Oliver was a tireless constituency worker here East Belfast, serving the whole community and building a strong following for the Party in East Belfast. All of us who have represented this constituency for Alliance since owe much to Oliver’s vision and dedication. It was an honour to have his support and endorsement during the Westminster campaign last year and I know that he was delighted at our success. My thoughts and prayers are with his family at this very sad time.”