Belfast Telegraph

Founding member of DUP Oliver Gibson dies

By Gareth Cross

A former MLA who lost a relative in the Omagh bombing has died.

Oliver Gibson, who represented the West Tyrone constituency and was a founding member of the DUP, was aged 83.

A death notice said he passed away peacefully at his home at Mountview Heights, Ballybogey, Ballymoney.

Mr Gibson served as MLA for West Tyrone from 1998 to 2003. He also served on Omagh District Council for a number of years.

His niece, Esther Gibson, was one of the 29 victims killed in the 1998 Omagh bombing.

Born in Beragh, Co Tyrone he attended Queen's University Belfast, worked as a teacher and also served in the Ulster Defence Regiment.

He was also a member of the Orange Order and the Apprentice Boys of Derry.

DUP leader Arlene Foster led the tribute.

She said the party was grateful for the work done by Mr Gibson throughout his political career.

"I was saddened to hear of Oliver Gibson's passing today," Mrs Foster said.

"Oliver was well known throughout the party, as one of its founding members and his character will be greatly missed.

"I always enjoyed meeting up with Oliver at party events. He was a great encourager.

"He was of a certain vintage of politicians who took their place in the first session of the Northern Ireland Assembly and continually worked towards making life better for all those who lived here, through his work as a DUP councillor and an MLA for West Tyrone.

"We are grateful for the faithful service Oliver dedicated to our party and we extend our sympathies to his family."

DUP MLA Peter Weir paid tribute to Mr Gibson on Twitter, saying he was greatly saddened by the news.

"I was very sorry to hear of the passing of Oliver Gibson, former West Tyrone MLA," he said.

"I had the honour of serving under him in the NI Forum Education Committee and with on the Assembly Finance Committee.

"A great intellect and character. Condolences to his family."

DUP South Belfast MLA Christopher Stalford also paid tribute.

"I was sad to hear of the passing of Oliver Gibson, former MLA for West Tyrone. He was old school DUP but with a mischievous wit," he said.

Mr Gibson's funeral Service takes place on Sunday at 3pm in Ramoan Presbyterian Church, burial afterwards in the adjoining graveyard.

Mr Gibson suffered personal tragedy in 1998 when his niece died at Omagh.

Esther Gibson, who worked in a local clothing factory, had recently become engaged and was due to marry the following July. She was a Sunday school teacher.

Belfast Telegraph

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