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Reports Ulster Unionists to nominate Jim Nicholson for peerage

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Jim Nicholson represented the party in Brussels for 30 years (UUP/PA)

Jim Nicholson represented the party in Brussels for 30 years (UUP/PA)

Jim Nicholson represented the party in Brussels for 30 years (UUP/PA)

Former Ulster Unionist MEP Jim Nicholson could be set to join the House of Lords, according to reports.

Mr Nicholson's 44-year political career came to an end ahead of last year's European Parliament elections when he decided to retire.

Sources have told the Ulster Gazette, however, that he could be returning to the political stage with a peerage.

A farmer by trade, he first entered public office in 1976 when he was elected to the then-Armagh District Council, where he served as Mayor between 1994/95.

He was on the council until 1997 and also a member of the Northern Ireland Assembly from 1982 to 1986, when "double-jobbing" was permitted.

Mr Nicholson became the MP for Newry and Armagh in 1983 and held the seat for two years before resigning, along with all other unionist MPs, in protest against the Anglo-Irish Agreement.

The Armagh man was the only resigning MP to fail to retake his seat when by-elections were held in 1986.

In 1989, he was was elected to the European Parliament and was re-elected in the ensuing five European elections.

With Brexit on the horizon, Mr Nicholson decided to retire as an MEP ahead of last year's poll, with former MLA Danny Kinahan contesting the seat for the party, only to lose out to Alliance leader Naomi Long.

On his last day as an MEP, Mr Nicholson said: "I can honestly say that I have enjoyed every moment representing the people of Northern Ireland in Europe."

If the Ulster Unionists do nominate Jim Nicholson for a peerage, he will join the party's two other peers in the Lords, Lord Empey and Lord Rogan.

The Ulster Unionist Party has been contacted for a comment.

Belfast Telegraph