Belfast Telegraph

Tributes to peer behind integrated schools Bill

By Adrian Rutherford

Tributes have been paid following the death of former Northern Ireland minister of state Lord Peter Melchett.

The long-term environmental campaigner and Labour peer passed away on Wednesday at the age of 71.

Lord Melchett was a Labour Party whip and a junior Environment Minister under Harold Wilson, later becoming a minister at the Northern Ireland Office under Jim Callaghan.

He was responsible for health and education, including sports and the arts - major departments with the largest share of Government spending here.

Lord Melchett increased teacher numbers, modernised provision for the mentally ill, and saw Northern Ireland provided with top sporting facilities.

He was also responsible for the successful passage of a Bill making it possible to set up integrated schools.

The peer helped establish the Northern Ireland Voluntary Trust (NIVT), now known as the Community Foundation.

Its chief executive Andrew McCracken said: "Lord Melchett was instrumental in the formation of NIVT in 1979 which provided crucial intervention in Northern Ireland communities at the height of the Troubles, and had a significant impact on community development.

"Thanks to the support of Lord Melchett, we were formed with an initial fund of £500,000 and a determination that we would be totally independent of government, almost 40 years later the Community Foundation continues to exist."

He became executive director of Greenpeace UK in 1989. Its current executive director John Sauven paid tribute to a "pioneer".

Belfast Telegraph

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