Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 26 November 2014

Mourners pay tribute to 'giant of a man' Oliver Napier

The first leader of the Alliance Party, Sir Oliver Napier
The first leader of the Alliance Party, Sir Oliver Napier

Former Alliance Party leader Sir Oliver Napier was a giant of a man who played a huge part in bringing peace and stability to Northern Ireland, mourners at his funeral were told.

Sir Oliver, who passed away at the weekend, was the party's first leader and served as a minister in the 1974 Stormont power-sharing Executive.

Yesterday hundreds packed St Colmcille's Church in Holywood to pay their final respects to the 75-year-old.

Among the mourners were colleagues, past and present, from the political world and the legal profession.

They included the current Alliance leader David Ford and his predecessors Lord Alderdice and John Cushnahan.

Speaking during the service, Sir Oliver's son James described how his legacy continued to impact on the lives of his family and the people of Northern Ireland.

"My father gave us many gifts, and many, many happy memories," he said. "I will miss his humour, his integrity and his wisdom."

Former Alliance MLA Seamus Close, who was a friend of Sir Oliver for many years, paid tribute to "a giant of a man".

Mr Close referred to the deep love Sir Oliver had for his family, and particularly his wife Briege. He also recalled how Oliver's commitment to equality and ending discrimination were reflected in Alliance.

"He forged into the politics of Northern Ireland a new context, a new way of operating, a whole new political ethos," he said.

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