Sir John Gorman

1 February 1923 – 26 May 2014

john gorman credit bobbie hanveyThe life of Sir John Gorman could best be described as full, active and varied. Known in more recent times as the sole Catholic unionist MLA, he served with distinction as a soldier and police officer and enjoyed a successful career in business.

John Gorman was born at Mullaghmore House in Omagh, the son of an RUC district inspector who earned a Military Cross during the First World War and had handed over the Phoenix Park barracks to Michael Collins. Aged 21, he received his own Military Cross and a Croix de guerre after rescuing his tank crew in battle in Normandy. His unit also took part in the liberation of Brussels.

His public service included seventeen years in the RUC, senior management in the British Overseas Airways Corporation, the chairmanship of the Housing Executive, and leading the Institute of Directors in Northern Ireland.

Gorman only joined the UUP in 1996 and was elected to the Northern Ireland Forum for Political Dialogue later that year. He tactfully chaired the forum over its two-year existence and was elected as an MLA for North Down in 1998. A knighthood rewarded his political service in the same year. His Assembly term included two years as Deputy Speaker and he retired from politics at the 2003 election.

UUP leader Mike Nesbitt commented that he was “inspired to deliver better politics” as a tribute to Sir John’s memory. Speaker William Hay found him to be “an affable and thoughtful character” who attracted “the same huge respect across the entire chamber as he did in the community.” Sir John is survived by his wife, Lady Heather, two daughters and a son.

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