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Trusted adviser David Haggan to law chiefs never lost love for Belfast


Tributes: David Haggan

Tributes: David Haggan

Tributes: David Haggan

Tributes have been paid to former Assistant Chief Crown Solicitor for Northern Ireland, David Haggan, who has passed away at the age of 91.

Mr Haggan, who died in Surrey, was originally from Tates Avenue in south Belfast, and always considered his home city the most special of places.

In the 1960s he became Crown Solicitor for Belfast, then Assistant Chief Crown Solicitor for Northern Ireland.

Later, he was called to the Bar in England and went on to become Legal Secretary to the Law Officers, advising two Attorney Generals and three Solicitor Generals on Northern Ireland affairs.

This involved weekly travel between London and Belfast, and Mr Haggan was always happy stepping on to the plane to return to Aldergrove.

Meanwhile, in Canada, his older brother Reeves played a big part in the passing of the Canada Constitution Act of 1982, a landmark in the country's history.

A dinner was held in Reeves' honour in London to mark the occasion, and was attended by the two brothers, each representing his own adopted country.

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Although money was always scarce during David Haggan's childhood, he considered himself to have had a privileged upbringing.

In the Belfast of the 1930s, he and his two brothers and two sisters had a wonderful time.

Thanks to a relative's job, his pastimes included driving steam trains.

His Baptist, teetotal parents were remarkably untroubled when their children vanished to embark on new adventures.

At Donaghadee, the boys would borrow a small boat and row out to the Copeland Islands for camping, night-time lighthouse keeper duties and attempts to swim between two of the islands at low tide.

Mr Haggan went on to train as an air cadet at Newtownards, where the former Secretary of State for Air, the Marquess of Londonderry, parked his Tiger Moth.

One Saturday, spotting the formidable seventh Marquess, Mr Haggan's friends bet him sixpence that he would not dare ask his lordship for a ride in the plane.

He did so and, despite the plane stalling mid-air during a loop-the-loop, lived to tell the tale, explaining that he needed the money.

From RBAI grammar school, all three Haggan brothers enlisted voluntarily in the war effort. David joined the RAF and in 1945 crossed the Atlantic on the Aquitania to train as a fighter pilot in Oklahoma. The war ended before he saw action, but he continued in the Reserve, his love of flying undimmed. Joining the RAF made it possible for him to go to university at St Andrews and Queen's, the first of his family to do so. In 1950 he married Hope, whom he had met over Bible studies at Capernwray Hall in England. The church was to play a big part in their life together for over 60 years.

Instead of retiring at 65, Mr Haggan embarked on a third career. He had long been a Lay Reader and in 1990 was ordained at Southwark, taking charge of the Heath Church in Reigate as non-stipendiary minister. Over the next decade he and Hope also took on 18 short-term chaplaincies abroad, his favourite being Zermatt in Switzerland. In 2014 they moved to the College of St Barnabas at Lingfield.

Mr Haggan retained his ability to quote long sections of song and verse until the end. He is survived by Hope, his daughter, son and grandson.

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