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Former PM O'Neill's grandson comes to Stormont

The grandson of a former prime minister of Northern Ireland has visited Stormont for the first time, after a “surreal” chance meeting with Ulster Unionist MLA Ross Hussey, in Limerick.

William Devas' grandfather was Captain Terence O'Neill, who was Northern Ireland's prime minister during the turbulent time between 1963 and 1969.

Ross Hussey said Mr Devas “just happened to say he had a relative who was involved in politics in Northern Ireland and I expected him to say something like Alderman Joe Bloggs who was a mayor somewhere but when he said Captain Terence O'Neill, we were like 'did he just say that?"

They invited Mr Devas to visit Stormont to see his grandfather's old workplace, and this week he made the journey to Belfast, when he said that while growing up he had not appreciated the extent of his grandfather's political career.

"He was a significant part of my life as a grandfather but his role in politics was really a very small part," he told the BBC.

"I knew the position he held and I understood he was there as things sadly got more violent, but beyond that I didn't know very much.

"Like many grandchildren, I only started paying attention when it was too late."

Mr Devas said he met a few MLAs who had stories to tell about Captain O'Neill.

"There were ones who said he'd inspired them to join the Ulster Unionist Party while others were 'no to O'Neill', so its been interesting to talk to different sides," he said.

Now that Mr Devas has seen Stormont for himself, he said he hoped to develop his interest in Northern Ireland politics.

"My real interest is that reconciliation can be achieved, and if there's a small minor part I could play then brilliant, otherwise I'll be an interested observer," he said.

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