Belfast Telegraph

Former Unionist MP Thompson dies

Former Ulster Unionist MP William Thompson has died.

The 71-year-old held the West Tyrone seat from 1997 to 2001.

The farmer and postmaster from Beragh, Co Tyrone, held senior positions in the Orange Order and had been a long standing member of Omagh District Council.

He died peacefully on Sunday after an illness.

The often outspoken politician, who represented Mid Ulster in Stormont's ill-fated powersharing institutions in the early 1970s and 1980s, was the first MP elected in the newly formed constituency of West Tyrone in 1997.

A year later he became a high profile opponent of the Good Friday Agreement, criticising his party's decision to do business with Sinn Fein.

In the 2001 Westminster election he lost his seat to Sinn Fein's Pat Doherty and since then had stepped back from front line politics.

Ulster Unionist leader Tom Elliott paid tribute to Mr Thompson.

"Willie was a long standing Ulster Unionist and was involved with the party for many years and in many crusades," he said.

"He was a real character and was never scared to say exactly what he thought - he was a real straight talker. Willie will be sadly missed by all in the party."

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