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First Minister pays tribute to former MP Willie Thompson

Leading figures from Northern Ireland’s political world are expected to gather in Omagh today for the funeral of former Ulster Unionist MP Willie Thompson.

The politician passed away peacefully in hospital at the weekend after suffering a long illness. He was 71.

A funeral service will be held at Omagh Methodist Church today at 2pm, followed by burial at |Cappagh Parish Church.

Yesterday dozens of tributes poured in after news of his death reached Stormont. Among those paying tribute was First Minister Peter Robinson.

The DUP leader described |Mr Thompson as a “principled unionist” who was not afraid to stand up for his beliefs.

“William gave the people of West Tyrone a voice in Parliament, something which had been |denied to them since 2001,” the DUP leader said.

“His passing is a blow for his friends and family. At this sad time, I extend my deepest |sympathy to William's family.”

Mr Thompson, who was from Beragh, Co Tyrone, had a long |political career.

However, the postmaster and farmer was best known for his stint as MP for West Tyrone |between 1997 and 2001.

He represented the constituency at the time of the Omagh bomb and often expressed deep regret at how the atrocity had affected community relations in the area.

TUV chairman William Ross said he had deeply admired him.

He added: “William was a man of firm convictions who always had the best interests of the Union and his constituents at heart.”

Mr Thompson is survived by his wife Violet and children Wilma, Elaine and Paul.

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