Molyneaux a leader with a strong sense of duty

Terry Wright.
Terry Wright.

A former UUP Party colleague has paid tribute to the Late Lord Molyneaux, whose death was announced on Monday.

Speaking on Tuesday, Terry Wright said that by the time he had become a member of the UUP Executive and later a Party officer, Lord Molyneaux had been replaced as Leader of the party by David Trimble, now Lord Trimble, himself succeeded by Reg Empey, now a member of the House of Lords.

“My contacts with Lord Molyneaux were limited to those times when he occasionally attended some of the many Council meetings that took place during the period of internal debates surrounding the Good Friday Agreement. He was at all times a gracious and quiet personality, not likely to express his views openly to those other than his trusted confidantes,” Mr Wright recalled.

“Politically, he was viewed as a having been a quiet, yet determined and able leader who served the party selflessly in times of great political turbulence for unionism.

“It was known that he favoured integration rather than devolution and, in regard to this, he was not always at one with those with whom he served in UUP.

“Placing his faith and reliance on Westminster, he formed close friendships with major figures like Enoch Powell whom he brought into the UUP and directly into Ulster politics. He was viewed as having the interest and support of Margaret Thatcher.

“The subsequent history of events like the Anglo-Irish Agreement is to suggest that too much reliance on this was misplaced and that a change of course was needed in UUP policy in view of the ineffectiveness of the many protests against the Agreement.

“Whilst this adjustment was being made Lord Molyneaux continued to provide a steady hand in the management of the party until he stood down as leader.

“He will be remembered as a leader with a strong sense of duty and service to the country, the UUP and what is identified as traditional unionism.”