Development & Alumni Relations Office 


Sir Oliver Napier, LLB 1956 (died 2 July 2011)

(Obituary published in The Telegraph on 2 July 2010)

Sir Oliver Napier, a former leader of Northern Ireland's Alliance party, has died aged 75. Napier co-founded the party in 1970 with a vision of bringing Catholics and Protestants together in defiance of the country's sectarian and political divisions. His political life was characterised by an abhorrence of terrorist violence and a search for cross-community consensus and reconciliation, but it was an uphill struggle. The vision of a Northern Ireland completely at peace and entirely at ease with itself, for which he worked tirelessly, remains to be fulfilled.

He was born in Belfast, where he was educated at St Malachy's College and Queen's University. He obtained a law degree and then joined his father's practice of solicitors.

Napier's roots and values were firmly anchored in the Catholic middle-class of the day. When he decided to enter the political fray during the early period of the Troubles in the late 1960s, he chose to join first the Ulster Liberal party and then the New Ulster Movement, both of which were striving to be moderate influences as community division and conflict engulfed Northern Ireland.

Early in 1970, when some Catholic politicians decided to form the Social Democratic and Labour party (SDLP), Napier declined to join them. He engaged in protracted discussions with the influential West Belfast MP, Gerry Fitt, to persuade him not to do so either.

For a full obituary, please visit the the Guardian.



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