Belfast Telegraph

Funeral held for DUP founding member Gibson

Former party colleagues pay tribute to Oliver Gibson

By Jane Scott

Tributes have been paid to a founding member of the DUP at his Co Antrim funeral yesterday.

Oliver Gibson passed away peacefully at his home at Mountview Heights in Ballybogey, Ballymoney on Friday at the age of 83.

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

His niece, Esther Gibson, was one of the 29 victims of the 1998 Omagh bombing. Sunday school teacher Esther, who worked in a local clothing factory, had recently become engaged and was due to marry the following July.

Born in Beragh, Co Tyrone on June 28, 1934, Mr Gibson attended Queen's University, Belfast and worked as a teacher at Omagh High School, where he was also vice principal.

A member of the Orange Order and the Apprentice Boys of Derry, he served as an officer in the UDR.

Tributes were paid to Mr Gibson over the weekend by DUP leader Arlene Foster and MLAs including Peter Weir and Christopher Stalford, and Omagh-based councillor Errol Thompson.

Mr Stalford wrote: "Sad to hear of the passing of Oliver Gibson, former MLA for West Tyrone. He was old school DUP but with a mischievous wit.

"Trying to flog him a QUB DUP barbecue ticket back in the day, he said, 'I'll take a ticket and you use it. Tell whatever wee lassie you take to the barbecue that Gibson paid for her dinner'."

DUP councillor John Carson added: "He always had time for the younger members of the party and was always ready with words of wisdom and sound advice."

Mr Gibson's funeral was held yesterday at Ramoan Presbyterian Church in Ballycastle and was attended by senior party members including North Antrim MLA Mervyn Storey.

Rev Noel McClean conducted the service and paid tribute to Mr Gibson's work within the DUP for the people of Omagh and West Tyrone.

Mourners also heard of his long teaching career and the many school hockey trips he organised for students, as well as his dedicated work with Beragh Community Association.

As he was laid to rest afterwards in the adjoining graveyard, one of Mr Gibson's grandsons, who had travelled over from Scotland for the funeral played the lament, The Rowan Tree, on bagpipes.

Mr Gibson is survived by his wife Audrey, children Hazel, Audrey, Valerie and Samuel, grandchildren and brother Norman.

Belfast Telegraph

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