Wednesday 17 January 2018

Where are they now? The party big names

John Hume: Retired as leader in 2001 and from the European Parliament (after 25 years) and active politics in 2005. He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, the Mahatma Ghandi Award and the Martin Luther King Peace Prize -- giving the financial awards in all cases to charity -- and held the Tip O'Neill Chair in Peace Studies at Magee University College.

Voted the Greatest Irish Person in RTE poll in 2010. In retirement, he lives in Derry and Co Donegal.

Seamus Mallon: Became Deputy First Minister (alongside David Trimble) in the Northern Ireland Executive. Retired as deputy leader in 2001 and from parliament in 2003.

Almost single handed, he fought in parliament for the complete implementation of the Patten reforms of policing against attempts by Peter Mandelson and Unionists to emasculate the recommendations. Served as a member of Seanad Eireann 1982-83 on nomination of Taoiseach Charles J Haughey. Lives in retirement in Co Armagh.

Brid Rodgers: Served as a highly regarded Minister of Agriculture in NI Executive and was highly praised for her handling of the Foot-and-Mouth outbreak on an all-island basis. Retired as MLA in 2003 and as deputy leader in 2004.

Served as a member of Seanad Eireann 1983-87 on nomination of Taoiseach Garrett FitzGerald. Lives in retirement in Co Armagh.

Austin Currie: In 1989, in the face of attacks on his wife and home, and of stasis in Northern politics, he moved South and joined Fine Gael. Elected to Dail Eireann 1989-2002. Contested Presidential election in 1990 for Fine Gael when Mary Robinson was elected. Served as Minister of State, Department of Health and Children, 1994-97. Retired from active politics in 2002 and lives in Co Kildare. Published memoir All Hell Will Break Loose in 2004.

Gerry Fitt: A founder member and first leader, Fitt resigned from the SDLP in 1979 when the party executive failed to back his acceptance of an invitation to inter-party talks.

Moved to London after attacks on his home and family in the wake of the Hunger Strikes. Lost his parliamentary seat in West Belfast to Gerry Adams in 1983 (with a SDLP candidate running against him).

Made life peer in 1983 and remained active in the House of Lords. An implacable opponent of violence and compromise with terror until his death in 2005.

Paddy Devlin: A founder member and a very successful Minister of Health in the

post-Sunningdale Executive, he was expelled from the party in 1977. He remained as a member of Belfast City Council until 1985, and made several unsuccessful attempts to form a Labour party.

A voracious reader and an autodidact, his later years were blighted by a courageous struggle against blindness resulting from

diabetes. He published a memoir, Straight Left as well as Yes, We Have No Bananas.

He died in 1999.

Irish Independent

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