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Text and Research: Brendan Lynn ... Edited and Compiled: Martin Melaugh
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Surname: A B C D E F G H I J K L M Mc N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

| Farren | Faulkner | Fitt | Fitzgerald | Flanagan | Ford | Forsythe | Foster | Freeland |

Farren, Séan (b. 6 September 1939)
Politician; Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) MLA; Executive Minister November 1999 - October 2002

Sean Farren was born in Dublin and spent the early years of his education at the Irish language schools, Colaiste Mhuire Primary and Secondary School in the city. Farren then went on to graduate from University College Dublin with a B.A. degree and then a H.Dip.Ed, before beginning work as a teacher at a of number schools in Ireland, Europe and Africa. Later, he obtained an MA. from the University of Essex and a Ph.D in Education from the University of Ulster. By the early 1970s he had returned to Ireland and taken up a position as a lecturer in education at the New University of Ulster / University of Ulster. In addition Farren had become involved in the field of Northern Ireland politics by joining the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) in 1973. Since then he has gone on to serve the party in a number of internal positions at branch, constituency and executive level. These positions have included those of Vice-Chair, and Chair of the party (1977-84).

His first experience as a public representative came in 1977 when he was elected to Coleraine Borough Council (1977-81) and since 1979 he has unsuccessfully contested in every Westminster general election the constituency of North Antrim for the SDLP. In 1982 however he was returned to the Northern Ireland Assembly as one of the representatives for North Antrim (1982-86), although in line with SDLP policy he never actually took his seat in that particular body. Later he served as a member of the party's delegation to the New Ireland Forum in Dublin (1983-84) and was also involved in its negotiations with Sinn Féin in 1988. Then in the period 1991 to 1992 Farren was one of the SDLP's delegation to the all-party political talks on the future of Northern Ireland. With the emergence of the Peace Process he was included in the party's team at the Forum for Peace and Reconciliation in Dublin (1994-96).

Following his election in May 1996 to the Northern Ireland Forum, Farren became a key member of the party's negotiating team at the multi-party talks that commenced in September 1997 and ended in April 1998 with the Good Friday Agreement (GFA). In June 1998 he was once again returned for the North Antrim constituency to the new Northern Ireland Assembly (1998-present). Following the establishment of the power sharing Executive in November 1999, Farren became Minister at the Department of Higher and Further Education, Training and Employment (1999-2001). He served in this position until December 2001 when, in the wake of a reshuffle of the SDLP's ministers, he was appointed Minister at the Department of Finance and Personnel and continued in this post until the suspension of the institutions of GFA in October 2002.

Book References:
Elliott, Sydney. and Flackes, W.D.(1999), Northern Ireland: A Political Directory 1968-1999. Belfast: Blackstaff Press.
Hennessey, Thomas. (2000), The Northern Ireland: Ending the Troubles? London: Gill & Macmillan.
Murray, Gerard. (1998), John Hume and the SDLP: Impact and Survival in Northern Ireland. Dublin: Irish Academic Press.
Web Sources:
http://www.sdlp.ie/
http://www.nics.gov.uk/biogs/sfarren.htm
http://www.seanfarren.com/index.html
http://www.northernireland.gov.uk/press/el/991210a-el.htm
http://www.ni-assembly.gov.uk/members/biogs/sfarren.htm
http://www.stratagem-ni.org/
[Entry written by B.Lynn - 12 November 2002]


Faulkner, Brian Arthur Deane (Life Peerage 1977) (b. 18 February 1921)
Politician; Unionist MP (Stormont); Prime Minister of Northern Ireland March 1971 - March 1972; Chief Executive of Northern Ireland Power-Sharing Executive January 1974 - May 1974

Brian Faulkner was born at Helen's Bay near Bangor, County Down and educated at Inchmarlo School in Belfast, Elm Boarding School, County Armagh, and St Columb's College, an Anglican school in Dublin. After one year reading law at Queen's University Belfast his studies were interrupted by the outbreak of the Second World War and due to labour shortages, Faulkner left to work in the family business, a shirt-making firm. In 1949 he entered politics for the first time when he became the youngest person elected to Stormont, the Northern Ireland Parliament, as the Unionist MP for East Down (1949-72). He soon established himself and promotions followed with his appointment in 1956 as government Chief Whip (1956-59) and in 1959 he became Minister of Home Affairs (1959-63) in the midst of a renewed Irish Republican Army (IRA) campaign against partition. In 1963 on the retirement of the aging Lord Brookeborough, then Prime Minister of Northern Ireland, Faulkner was regarded by many as favourite to succeed him but Captain Terence O'Neill emerged to claim the position.

Under O'Neill he was made Minister of Commerce (1963-69) and gained praise for his work in trying to attract new industry to Northern Ireland. His relationship with the new Prime Minister however was always an uneasy one and deteriorated further as Faulkner grew increasingly concerned at O'Neill's response to the emerging civil rights campaign. Matters finally came to ahead in January 1969 when Faulkner resigned from the Cabinet in protest at the package of reforms introduced by O'Neill in the face of growing unrest on the streets. When the Prime Minister then resigned in April 1969 Faulkner was again mooted as the natural successor but in the subsequent contest, decided by the Unionist parliamentary party, he lost out to Major James Chichester-Clarke by a single vote. Faulkner did however agree to return to the Cabinet as Minister of Development (1969-71) and was given the task of pushing through measures of reform particularly concerning local government. Then in March 1971 Chichester-Clark, unable to solve the worsening security situation tendered his resignation and Faulkner was duly elected as Prime Minister (1971-72) easily defeating his only opponent, William Craig.

His term in office however was to be defined by of two major events. To begin with in August 1971, in order to try to deal with the escalation in paramilitary activity, Faulkner introduced internment without trial. Unfortunately this decision was to prove counter-productive in that it not only further alienated the nationalist community but also failed to halt the increasing levels of violence. Then in March 1972 he was powerless to stop the British government from suspending the Stormont parliament and introducing direct rule from Westminster. As a protest against this move he initially joined with other more militant unionists in organising opposition to the decision taken by the authorities in London. But later he alienated his former allies by taking part in negotiations aimed at returning devolved power to Northern Ireland. To the alarm of many within his own party, as well as sections of the wider unionist community, in November 1973 Faulkner agreed to the establishment of a a power-sharing administration to govern Northern Ireland.

This new body took office in January 1974 with him as Chief Executive but from the outset it faced major problems. In particular to add to the sense of unease amongst many within the unionist community at Faulkner's apparent willingness to share power he had also signed up in December 1973 to the Sunningdale Agreement. This proposed to set up a Council of Ireland to formalise and manage cross-border relations between the authorities in Belffast and Dublin. These arrangements however were immediately opposed by many unionists culminating in the loyalist strike of May 1974. Not only did this bring down the power-sharing executive but also directly spelt the end of Faulkner's political career. Having already been forced out of the Unionist Party he tried to rally support by forming the Unionist Party of Northern Ireland (UPNI) but it won little electoral support at the election in 1975 to the Constitutional Convention. Finally in 1976 he announced his intention to quit politics and in 1977 was awarded a peerage, later taking his seat in the House of Lords as Lord Faulkner of Downpatrick.

Book References:
Elliott, Sydney. and Flackes, W.D. (1999), Northern Ireland: A Political Directory 1968-1999. Belfast: Blackstaff Press.
Harbinson, John Fitzsimons. (1973), The Ulster Unionist Party, 1882-1973: Its Development and Organisation. Belfast: Blackstaff Press.
Hennessey, Thomas. (1997), A History of Northern Ireland 1920-1996. Dublin: Gill & Macmillan.
Houston, John. (ed.) (1978), Brian Faulkner: Memoirs of a Statesman. London: Weidenfield and Nicolson.
McRedmond Louis. (ed.) (1998), Modern Irish Lives: Dictionary of 20th-century Biography. Dublin: Gill & Macmillan.
Web Sources:
http://www.rte.ie/culture/millennia/people/faulknerbrian.html
[Entry written by B.Lynn - 12 November 2002]


Fitt, ('Gerry') Gerard (Life Peerage 1983) (b. 9 April 1926)
Politician; MP (Stormont); Leader of Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) 1971-79

Gerry Fitt was born in Belfast and after leaving school at an early age served with the British merchant navy (1941-53). After leaving the service Fitt then became involved with the labour movement in his native city and was elected as a public representative for the first time in 1958 when he took a seat on Belfast City Council (1958-81). At the 1962 Northern Ireland general election he was returned for the Dock constituency in the Stormont parliament (1962-72) as a member of the Republican Labour Party (RLP). Four years later at the 1966 British general election Fitt became the new RLP MP for West Belfast (1966-70) and immediately on taking his seat sought to overturn a ruling that prevented domestic matters relating to Northern Ireland being discussed at Westminster. In addition he successfully sought to interest a significant number of Labour backbench MPs to investigate claims of alleged discrimination by the Unionist authorities against the minority Catholic community in Northern Ireland.

With the growing civil unrest of the late 1960s Fitt then severed his ties with the RLP and became one of the founding members of the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) in August 1970. Fitt was chosen as the party's first leader (1970-79) and went onto represent it at both Stormont (1970-72) and Westminster (1970-79). Later in June 1973 he was returned to the Northern Ireland Assembly (1973-74) and with the SDLP agreeing to join the power sharing Executive in January 1974 Fitt served as Deputy Chief Executive (January-May 1974). After the Assembly and Executive in May 1974 he led the SDLP into the Constitutional Convention (1975-76) but after it too failed to bring any agreement his relationship with the party became increasingly strained. In particular Fitt disagreed with the SDLP's growing determination to ensure that any future political settlement in Northern Ireland would have to involve a major role for the Irish government. As a result his position as party leader became increasingly untenable and finally in 1979 he resigned the position and also left the SDLP.

For a period Fitt continued to sit at Westminster as an Independent MP (1979-83) but his long-term condemnation of the Republican movement often left him a frequent target for verbal and personal attack. This was also eventually to impact on his political career and in 1981 his opposition to the Republican hunger strikes saw him lose his council seat. With the growing electoral strength of Sinn Féin (SF) Fitt lost his West Belfast seat at the 1983 Westminster general election to the SF candidate, Gerry Adams. Later that year he decided to accept the offer of a life peerage from the British government and subsequently took his seat in the House of Lords as Lord Fitt of Bell's Hill (1983-present).

Book References:
Elliott, Sydney. and Flackes, W.D. (1999), Northern Ireland: A Political Directory 1968-1999. Belfast: Blackstaff Press.
Ramsden, John (ed.) (2002), The Oxford Companion to Twentieth-Century British Politics. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
McAllister, Ian.(1977), The Northern Ireland Social Democratic and Labour Party: Political Opposition in a Divided Society. London: Macmillan.
McRedmond, Louis. (ed.) (1998), Modern Irish Lives: Dictionary of 20th-century Biography. Dublin: Gill & Macmillan.
Murray, Gerard. (1998), John Hume and the SDLP: Impact and Survival in Northern Ireland. Dublin: Irish Academic Press.
[Entry written by B.Lynn - 30 March 2003]


Fitzgerald, Garret (b. 9 February 1926)
Politician; Fine Gael (FG) TD; Irish Foreign Minister 1973-77; Taoiseach (Prime Minister Republic of Ireland) 1981-82 and 1982-87

The son of Desmond Fitzgerald, the first foreign minister of the Irish Free State (1922-27), Garret Fitzgerald was born in Dublin and educated at Belvedere College and University College Dublin (UCD) graduating with a first in History and French. From 1947-58 he worked within Aer Lingus but in 1959 he returned to UCD as a lecturer in Economics (1959-73) and completed his Ph.D. in 1969. His first involvement in politics as a public representative came in 1965 when he was nominated by Fine Gael (FG) to sit in the Irish Senate (1965-69). Then at the 1969 general election he stood for FG and was returned to the Dáil representing the constituency of Dublin South-East (1969-92). Following the return to power of FG in coalition with the Labour Party in 1973, Fitzgerald was appointed Minister of Foreign Affairs (1973-77). Amongst his duties in this post was to serve as a member of the Irish government's delegation at the negotiations that produced the Sunningdale Agreement (1973). When FG lost the 1977 general election he replaced Cosgrave as Leader of FG (1977-87) and sought to rebuild and modernise the party. This succeeded to the extent that in June 1981 Fitzgerald became Taoiseach as FG and Labour formed a minority government which lasted until January 1982. Within months however after yet another general election in November 1982, he returned to head another FG-Labour coalition which on this occasion had an overall majority, and as a result remained in power until 1987.

As Taoiseach the approach taken by Fitzgerald to Northern Ireland was to be marked by a number of key developments. He was anxious to improve relations between the British and Irish governments and in 1981 agreed to the establishment of an Anglo-Irish Intergovernmental Council to provide a formal structure under which further discussions could take place. Then in 1983 he set up the New Ireland Forum (NIF) in Dublin and with representatives of the main political parties in the Republic along with the main nationalist party in the north, the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP). This body set out to try to provide a new framework for Irish constitutional nationalism. Although the final report of the NIF failed to win the unanimous support of all those involved and was later dismissed out of hand by the British government, it did form the basis for a fresh round of negotiations between London and Dublin. These eventually led to the two governments signing the Anglo-Irish Agreement (AIA) in November 1985. This provided for the setting up of an Anglo-Irish Conference allowing the interests of northern nationalists to be raised by the Irish government through ongoing contacts with the British authorities through a secretariat and regular ministerial meetings.

For Fitzgerald the AIA was also regarded as a success in strengthening the position of the SDLP against the growing electoral threat posed by the republican movement in Northern Ireland, which had manifested itself in the success enjoyed by Sinn Féin since the hunger strikes of the early 1980s. This was balanced however by his disappointment at the hostile response of unionist opinion in Northern Ireland to the AIA. When the FG-Labour coalition broke up in January 1987 he was forced into calling an election which saw his party perform badly and in the aftermath of the disappointing result, he stood down immediately as party leader. Although he retired from active politics in 1992 Fitzgerald has continued to comment widely on Northern Ireland and other matters.

Book References:
Elliott, Sydney. and Flackes, W.D. (1999), Northern Ireland: A Political Directory 1968-1999. Belfast: Blackstaff Press.
Fitzgerald, Garret. (1991), All in a Life: An Autobiography. Dublin: Gill & Macmillan.
Maye, Brian. (1993), Fine Gael 1923-1987. A General History with Biographical Sketches of Leading Members. Dublin: Blackwater.
McRedmond, Louis. (ed.) (1998), Modern Irish Lives: Dictionary of 20th-century Biography. Dublin: Gill & Macmillan.
Web Sources:
http://www.rte.ie/culture/millennia/people/fitzgeraldgarret.html
[Entry written by B.Lynn - 12 November 2002]


Flanagan, ('Ronnie') Ronald (Sir) (b. 23 March 1949)
Police Officer; Chief Constable of the RUC 1996-2002

Ronnie Flanagan was born in Belfast and educated at Finiston Primary School and Belfast High School. He joined the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) in 1970 whilst a student at Queen's University Belfast and over the next few years began to make his way through the ranks. In 1982 Flanagan was made a Detective Inspector in the Special Branch and this was followed in 1983 with promotion to Chief Inspector where he was placed in charge of the selection and training of police officers for service in specialist uniformed anti-terrorist units as well as the operational control of these. This was then followed in 1990 with his appointment as Chief Superintendent and a transfer to the Police Staff College at Bramshil as the first Director of the Intermediate Command Course and subsequently of the Senior Command Course.

On his return to service with the RUC in 1992 he then served in a number of top positions: beginning as Assistant Chief Constable in charge of the Operations Department; then in 1993 he was given an added responsibility as operational commander for the Belfast region; in 1994 Flanagan was appointed head of Special Branch; in 1995 he was made Acting Deputy Chief Constable; and in April 1996, Deputy Chief Constable. With the retirement of the Chief Constable of the RUC, Sir Hugh Annesley, in 1996 Flanagan was named his successor in August 1996 (1996-2001). In this role he immediately had to deal with the situation caused by the collapse of the Irish Republican Army (IRA) ceasefire in early 1996. Then in July 1997 he was roundly condemned by many nationalist for his decision to allow the Orange Order to proceed with a march down the Garvaghy Road in Portadown against the wishes of local residents.

As Chief Constable Flanagan also had to deal with the debate over the future shape of policing in Northern Ireland in the wake of the Good Friday Agreement (GFA). In essence this meant having to respond to the Patten Commission which had been established under the GFA to deal with the issue. He made it clear that he did not entirely agree with the final report from the Patten Commission especially over the proposal to change the name of the RUC to the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI). At the same time however he declared he was prepared to see some of the changes it proposed implemented, if it could be clearly demonstrated that the reforms could ensure that the police force would be more acceptable to the nationalist community. In order to ensure continuity he therefore agreed to remain as Chief Constable when the PSNI formally came into being in November 2001. Once this change was made Flanagan then announced, without any great surprise, his intention to retire from the post later in November 2001.

The last few months however of his term as Chief Constable was to be dominated by a very public row with the families of the 1998 Omagh bomb victims and the Police Ombudsman. This centred on a report from the Police Ombudsman which was not only highly critical of the RUC's handling of the investigation but called for the appointment an officer from outside of Northern Ireland to head the inquiry. In his response Flanagan defended the role of the RUC, and in turn criticised the Ombudsman Report as being itself deeply "flawed". Finally at the end of March 2002 he stood down as Chief Constable of the PSNI. His years of service in the police were officially recognised with an OBE in 1996 and a knighthood in 1999.

Book References:
Elliott, Sydney. and Flackes, W.D. (1999), Northern Ireland: A Political Directory 1968-1999. Belfast: Blackstaff Press.
Ryder, Chris. (2000), The RUC 1922-2000: A Force Under Fire. London: Arrow.
Web Sources:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/northern_ireland/1704256.stm
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/northern_ireland/1818839.stm
http://www.rte.ie/news/2001/1202/patten.html
[Entry written by B.Lynn - 12 November 2002]


Ford, David (b. 24 February 1951)
Politician; Alliance Party of Northern Ireland (APNI) MLA; Leader of the APNI 2001-present

David Ford was born in England and educated at Warren Road Primary School, Orpington and Dulwich College, London before going to attend Queen's University Belfast where he was to graduate with a B Sc in Economics. After post graduate study, by way of a Certificate in Social Work from the Ulster Polytechic, Jordanstown, Ford began work as a social worker and later went onto hold various positions in the social service sector. His political career began in the 1980s when he joined the Alliance Party of Northern Ireland (APNI) and his first electoral contest came in the local government 1989 when he stood unsuccessfully for a seat on Antrim Borough Council. Then in 1990 he became General Secretary of the APNI and in 1993 was elected as a councillor on Antrim Borough Council (1993-2001). From 1996-98 Ford was a member of the Northern Ireland Forum and as such represented the APNI at the multi-party talks which were to end in April 1998 with the signing of the Good Friday Agreement (GFA). In June 1998 he was elected as a member of the new Northern Ireland Assembly for the constituency of South Antrim (1998-present) and became the party's Chief Whip (1998-2001). Then following the resignation of the party leader, Sean Neeson, in September 2001, Ford took over the post in October 2001. At the election to the Northern Ireland Assembly in November 2003 under Ford the APNI managed to retain its six seats although its sahare of the first preference vote fell to 3.7%.

Book References:
Elliott, Sydney. and Flackes, W.D. (1999), Northern Ireland: A Political Directory 1968-1999. Belfast: Blackstaff Press.
Web Sources:
http://www.allianceparty.org/leadership.asp?id=1
http://www.davidford.org/dford.htm
http://www.ni-assembly.gov.uk/members/biogs/dford.htm
http://www.stratagem-ni.org/
[Entry written by B.Lynn - 12 November 2002; updated 9 June 2004]


Forsythe, Clifford (b.24 August 1929)
Politician; Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) MP 1983-2000
[Entry to be included at a later date]


Foster, ('Sam') Samuel (b. 7 December 1931)
Politician; Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) MLA 1998-2003; Executive Minister November 1999 - February 2002

Samuel Foster was born near Lisnaskea, Fermanagh and educated at Enniskillen Technical College, Rupert Stanley College, Belfast, and later at the Ulster Polytechnic, Jordanstown. Foster worked in the printing industry as a compositor / proof reader for many years before returning to education which eventually led to him taking up employment as a Senior Education Officer and then as a social worker. In addition he had served as a member of the Ulster Special Constabulary (USC) for over 20 years and joined the Ulster Defence Regiment (UDR) when it was formed in 1972 to replace the USC, becoming Company Commander with the rank of Major in the 4th (Fermanagh) Battalion. He was also commended for his rescue efforts following the Enniskillen Cenotaph bombing of 8 November 1987, which he himself was to witness. With regards to politics, Foster was first elected to Fermanagh District Council as a member of the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) in 1981 (1981-2001) and served as Chairman of the council between 1995-97. In 1996 he was returned to the Northern Ireland Forum for the constituency of Fermanagh and South Tyrone as a representative of the UUP (1996-98) and in 1998 was again elected for the area in the new Northern Ireland Assembly (1998-2003). With the formation of the Northern Ireland Executive in November 1999 under the auspices of the Good Friday Agreement (GFA), Foster was one of the surprise nominations put forward by his party leader, David Trimble, and took up the post of Minister at the Department of Environment (1999-2002). He remained in this position until announcing in February 2002 that he was retiring due to ill-health and followed this up in August 2002 by stating that he would not be standing at the next Assembly election.

Book References:
Elliott, Sydney. and Flackes, W.D. (1999), Northern Ireland: A Political Directory 1968-1999. Belfast: Blackstaff Press.
Web Sources:
http://www.stratagem-ni.org/members/
http://www.ni-assembly.gov.uk/members/biogs/sfoster.htm
http://www.uup.org/
[Entry written by B.Lynn - 12 November 2002]


Freeland, Ian (Lieutenant General) (b. 14 September 1912)
British Army Soldier; General Officer Commanding (GOC) Northern Ireland 1969-71

Following the decision of the authorities in Westminster to deploy British troops in Northern Ireland in August 1969, Ian Freeland was subsequently appointed as General Officer Commanding (GOC) Northern Ireland (1969-71). Freeland faced a difficult situation during his spell as GOC with ongoing street disturbances followed by a growing threat from paramilitary groups. To try to counteract this latter development he was in overall charge of a security operation in the Catholic Falls Road area of Belfast in July 1970 which was to provoke a great deal of controversy. During this event, a 48 hour curfew was imposed and although arms and ammunition were discovered allegations arose over the behaviour of the troops involved.

Book References:
Elliott, Sydney. and Flackes, W.D. (1999), Northern Ireland: A Political Directory 1968-1999. Belfast: Blackstaff Press.
Hennessey, Thomas. (1997), A History of Northern Ireland 1920-1996. Dublin: Gill & Macmillan.
[Entry written by B.Lynn - 30 March 2003]


Notes:
The information has been compiled from numerous primary and secondary sources.
The best general sources for additional information are:
  • Elliott, Sydney. and Flackes, W.D. (1999), Northern Ireland: A Political Directory, 1968-1999. Belfast: Blackstaff Press.
  • McRedmond, Louis. (ed.) (1998), Modern Irish Lives: Dictionary of 20th-century Biography. Dublin: Gill & Macmillan.
  • Ramsden, John. (ed.) (2002), The Oxford Companion to Twentieth-Century British Politics. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
    For related and background information see also:
  • The list of acronyms associated with 'the Troubles'
  • The glossary of terms related to the conflict
  • The abstracts on prominent organisations
  • The chronology of the conflict

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