Creationist and classic car enthusiast Harry Harvey is the co-opted DUP MLA for Strangford, replacing the departed Simon Hamilton. Harvey, a former Newry, Mourne and Down councillor for Rowallane since 2014 is the son of former Down councillor Cecil Harvey, a founding elder of Ian Paisley’s Free Presbyterian Church in 1951.
Outline your career, background to date
I had been working in the motor trade for 30 years, in Bells Motors, Crossgar before becoming a councillor in Newry Mourne and Down Council. The opportunity arose to take up the vacancy at Stormont, replacing Simon Hamilton, after he decided to take up a post in the Belfast Chamber of Commerce as Chief Executive.
Although it was a great opportunity, it was also a huge decision as I was very happy in council and had a great all-party working relationship. I had also just secured my seat for another four-year term.
However, my ambition was to see Stormont back and fully functioning, a number one issue on the doors.
Thankfully it paid off and I am glad of any input or encouragement that I was able to give along the way. I feel that at least I am now able to fully serve those that put their faith in me at the polls, which I am so appreciative off.
What inspired you to get into politics?
My father Cecil was an assembly member in 1973, (he also worked as the postmaster in Saintfield) and also served on Down Council until his passing in 1985. I had always helped him and was brought up with politics, so it was not something that I was strange to. However, it was not really something I foresaw for myself because, like most teenagers, I had other interests, mostly car and motorsport related stuff.
My father’s successor to council was William Dick and he served on Down Council for 30 years. I supported him and helped him along at election time and started to get more involved in the party.
When William decided to retire, I was also ready for a career change. It was a great opportunity for me. I loved working with people and helping them in practical ways.
I was so saddened in October when we could not stop the change in the abortion law coming here.
Who do you admire in politics or public life?
I would have to say Rev Ian Paisley because I don’t think there was ever a time that I didn’t know him. He was a great friend of my father and a regular visitor to our house in Crossgar since 1949/50. This is where the first Free Presbyterian Church was formed in 1951 and the last time he attended was to take my mother’s funeral in 2009.
I am also a big fan of the late Billy Graham, the great American evangelist and if I had to pick a President it would be Ronald Reagan.
What drew you to the DUP?
I particularly like the DUP because they are the only pro-life party that I know of in the United Kingdom and for me, they take the best stand on this issue. They also support traditional family values and hold high Christian principles. That’s more important to me than any other.
I was so saddened in October 2019 when we could not stop the change in the abortion law coming here and as much as we tried to stop it, all other parties did not. However, we will, I can assure you, be revisiting it now that we are back in government. I also am a creationist, not an evolutionist.
What are your key priorities for your constituency, and the key issues in it?
I believe the key priorities in all constituencies should be the wellbeing of everyone, and everyone’s needs are different, along with their priorities. Most of the differences occur at different stages in people’s lives, from the children and young mothers, to the cycle of school, then employment, and after this stage, we are in the elderly bracket. With health being the most important issue along the way.
We have to be very adaptable to help everyone, and meet their needs. All being the top priorities and needs of an individual at a particular time. Prevention if it is at all possible is always better than a cure.
What are your interests outside work?
There is not a lot of time outside of work and mostly it’s just getting ready for the next thing. Time with family is the most important and best thing. After that, I love my old classic cars and this is my hobby when I get time. I also put this to good use. Events are used to raise lots of money for various needy charities with different shows throughout the summer season. The vehicles I use are ones which I had purchased many years ago and restored myself. It’s a good excuse to meet up with old friends and make new ones.
I would love to see a motor museum developed in our area with changing themes and exhibits, something I have been working on.