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Obituary: David McClarty

By Alf McCreary

David McClarty, the independent MLA and a former deputy speaker in the Northern Ireland Assembly, has died after a long illness.

He was 63.

Mr McClarty was one of the most popular Members of the Assembly and was respected for his even-handedness in dealing with politicians from all sides of the house.

He was a University of Ulster graduate in English and classics and made his early career in the insurance business in Coleraine, where he began his political life in the local borough council.

David McClarty was highly-regarded generally as an able, articulate and committed politician, who was known for his courage and independence of mind. He was elected to the Assembly in 1998 as a UUP member for East Londonderry, but left the party in 2011 when he was deselected by his constituency for the forthcoming Assembly election.

With typical commitment and self-belief, he stood as an independent and won the seat.

Later he was invited to return to the UUP, but declined the offer because he wanted to remain true to the voters who had elected him as an independent Assembly Member.

As an assistant deputy speaker in the Assembly from 2007-11, he was known for his fair-mindedness and also his ability to put forward his firmly held views without making political enemies.

The range of tributes are a testimony to his popularity and efficiency.

First Minister Peter Robinson described him as a person "of great decency, honour and integrity", and Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness said that he was "a gentleman who was greatly respected by all".

UUP leader Mike Nesbitt described him as "a positive and progressive thinker and probably the most popular MLA at Stormont".

Former UUP leader and party chairman Lord Empey described him as "a real gentleman in politics".

He was very well-known in the Coleraine area and was a strong supporter of the local football club.

Mr McClarty was also a lifelong member of Killowen Church, and sang in the choir there.

He was a keen amateur actor and took part in many local productions.

David McClarty is survived by his wife Norma, two sons and wider family.

alf mccreary

Belfast Telegraph

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