Anne Smyth (72) will look to secure council seat for party in east Belfast
The mother of BBC Northern Ireland’s interim director Adam Smyth is standing as a TUV candidate in May’s council elections.
Anne Smyth is running in East Belfast’s Titanic ward where the party believes she has an “excellent chance” of winning a seat.
Mrs Smyth said she had known TUV leader Jim Allister from the early 1970s when they were founder members of the DUP association at Queen’s University, along with Sammy Wilson.
She drifted away from unionist politics after graduation but said she was looking forward to the council election campaign.
Mrs Smyth’s husband Clifford is a leading Orange historian. She stressed that the politics of herself and her husband should not be confused with her son.
“We raised our four children to be free-thinking. They were never rail-roaded into sharing our views. Adam is very much his own man with his own opinions,” she said.
“We have friendly arguments — even heated discussions — from time to time. Adam has a reputation for being completely impartial, fair-minded, and even-handed in his job.”
Mrs Smyth (72), who was born in Glasgow, came to study law at Queen’s in 1968.
“I arrived in Northern Ireland on the day of the Duke Street riot in Londonderry,” she said.
“My father was a senior Orangeman in Scotland so I got in touch with the Order here and that’s how I met Clifford.
“I was a founder member of the DUP at Queen’s. Jim Allister was our chairman, I was secretary, and Sammy Wilson was the treasurer.”
Mrs Smyth said she stopped being actively involved in unionist politics after graduating: “I was a bit disillusioned and, as a civil servant, political activity was discouraged anyway.
“I became active in the TUV about four years ago and am now secretary of its Belfast branch.
“I have always held Jim Allister in high regard, and I admire the party’s strong moral stance on issues like abortion and same-sex marriage.”
Mrs Smyth expressed support for the TUV’s position on the protocol bill: “I’m very much in agreement with the party’s principled stance on opposing an Irish Sea border and on sharing power with Sinn Féin.
“I was initially hesitant when asked to stand for election because I’m 72 and I like to see young people coming forward.
“But I think I bring real life experience to the table, and it’s a bit hypocritical to complain about how things are and not be prepared to step up to the mark yourself.”
Adam Smyth, who began his career as a reporter, became director of BBC Northern Ireland on an interim basis in January 2022.
He has worked for the corporation for 27 years.
A highly respected figure in Broadcasting House, he became head of news and current affairs here in 2018, leading BBC Northern Ireland’s output across television, radio and digital platforms.
Last year, Adam Smyth defended the corporation’s decision to end live coverage of the Twelfth, which his father had once provided the commentary for. The Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland described it as a “snub” to their community.
Grand Secretary the Rev Mervyn Gibson, DUP leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson, and other unionist politicians asked the BBC to reconsider but the corporation did not reverse its decision.