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Text and Research: Brendan Lynn ... Edited and Compiled: Martin Melaugh
Material is added to this site on a regular basis - information on this page may change

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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

| Napier | Needham | Neeson | Nesbitt | Newe | Newman | Nicholson |

Napier, Oliver (b. 11 July 1935)
Politician; Leader of the Alliance Party of Northern Ireland (APNI) 1972-84; Northern Ireland Executive Minister January-May 1974

A law graduate from Queen's University Belfast, Oliver Napier went on to pursue a legal career as a solicitor and later opened his own practice. His first involvement in politics was with the New Ulster Movement (NUM) in the late 1960s which advocated a non-sectarian approach to the deepening political crisis in Northern Ireland. When the NUM evolved into the Alliance Party of Northern Ireland (APNI) in 1970 he became a member and in 1972 assumed the leadership position (1972-84). Elected in June 1973 to the Northern Ireland Assembly (NIA) for the constituency of East Belfast (1973-74), Napier went onto play an important role at the Sunningdale Conference that was held in December 1973. A member of the power-sharing Executive (January-May 1974) he was made Head of the Office of Law Reform and after the collapse of the Executive was elected to the Constitutional Convention (1975-76).

Over the next few years, in spite of the fact there appeared little possibility of political progress being made, Napier remained leader of the APNI. Then after 12 years in the post he decided to resign in 1984 and in 1986 received a knighthood for his contribution to politics in Northern Ireland. He continued however to remain an active member of the party, representing it on Belfast City Council (1977-89) and was returned again for East Belfast to the Northern Ireland Assembly in October 1982 (1982-86). On three occasions he unsuccessfully stood for election to the Westminster Parliament, in 1979 and 1983 for East Belfast as well as for North Down in 1995. In May 1996 Napier was elected to the Northern Ireland Forum (1996-98) for North Down and went on to be a member of the APNI delegation which took part in the all-party talks that were to produce the Good Friday Agreement (GFA) in April 1998.

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 - 24 March 2003]


Needham, Richard Francis (b. 29 January 1942)
Politician; Conservative Party MP; Under Secretary at the Northern Ireland Office 1985-92

Richard Needham was elected in 1979 as the new Conservative MP for Chippenham (1979-83) and later went on to also represent the constituency of Wiltshire North (1983-97). Needham served in a number of junior government positions before being appointed in 1985 as an Under Secretary at the Northern Ireland Office (NIO). Initially his responsibilities in this role were to include the department of Environment, along with Health and Social Services, and then after 1988 he also had to deal with Environment and Economic Development. In 1992 having served just over seven years in Northern Ireland, making Needham the longest serving minister at the NIO during direct rule, he returned to Westminster as a junior minister. In 1995 he decided to leave the government and prior to the 1997 announced his decision to retire as an MP. During the referendum campaign in May 1998 on the Good Friday Agreement (GFA) he returned to Northern Ireland to campaign for a "Yes" vote.

Book References:
Elliott, Sydney. and Flackes, W.D. (1999), Northern Ireland: A Political Directory 1968-1999. Belfast: Blackstaff Press.
Needham, Richard. (1998), Battling for Peace. Belfast: Blackstaff Press.
[Entry written by B.Lynn - 26 March 2003]


Neeson, Sean (b. 9 February 1946)
Politician; Alliance Party of Northern Ireland (APNI) MLA; Leader of the APNI 1998-2001

Sean Neeson received his education at St. Malachy's College, and then Queen's University Belfast, before going to pursue a career in teaching. He joined the Alliance Party of Northern Ireland (APNI) in the 1970s and was elected to Carrickfergus Borough Council in 1977 (1977-present) and went on to serve a term as its Mayor (1993-94). In 1982 he was returned to the Northern Ireland Assembly (NIA) for the constituency of North Antrim (1982-86) and was later a member of the APNI delegation to the Northern Ireland political talks in the period 1991 to 1992. At the election in May 1996 to the Northern Ireland Forum Neeson succeeded in being elected for East Antrim (1996-98). He was a member of the APNI delegation at the all-party negotiations that were to produce the Good Friday Agreement (GFA) in April 1998.

In June 1998 he was once more returned to the Northern Ireland Assembly for East Antrim (1998-present) and in July 1998 succeeded Lord Alderdice as leader of the APNI (1998-2001). His term as party leader proved to be a difficult one and in early 2001 he failed to be selected by his own constituency branch to stand as its candidate in the Westminster general election of June 2001 for East Antrim. After the party suffered disappointing results at both the Westminster and the local government elections in June 2001, Neeson decided to resign as party leader in September 2001.

Book References:
Elliott, Sydney. and Flackes, W.D. (1999), Northern Ireland: A Political Directory 1968-1999. Belfast: Blackstaff Press.
Web Sources:
http://www.ni-assembly.gov.uk/members/biogs/sneeson.htm
http://www.stratagem-ni.org/
[Entry written by B.Lynn - 24 March 2003]


Nesbitt, Dermot (b. 14 August 1947)
Politician; Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) MLA; Executive Minister February 2001 - October 2002

Dermot Nesbitt was born in Belfast and educated at Down High School, Downpatrick, and Queen's University Belfast, from where he was to graduate with a first class honours degree in Economics. Nesbitt then returned to Queen's where he became a Senior Lecturer and later served as Head of the Department of Accounting and Finance (1990-98). His first entry into politics came in the 1970s when he acted as the election agent of Brian Faulkner, then leader of the Unionist Party, in the period from 1973-76. The fall of Faulkner led to Nesbitt leaving politics for a time but he returned in 1981 when he was elected as an Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) councillor on Down District Council (1981-89).

However his profile within the UUP was to remain low until after his election to the Northern Ireland Forum in May 1996 for the constituency of South Down (1996-98). But this soon was to change as he then became a prominent member of the UUP's delegation to the multi-party talks. During these negotiations Nesbitt was seen as a close ally of the party leader, David Trimble, and was therefore closely involved in the process which was to culminate with the Good Friday Agreement (GFA) in April 1998. In the elections to the new Northern Ireland Assembly in June 1998 he was once again returned as a member for South Down (1998-present). With the formation of the power-sharing executive in November 1999 Nesbitt was appointed as one of two Junior Ministers in the Office of the First and Deputy First Minister (December 1999 - February 2002). He held this post until February 2002 when a reshuffle of the UUP's ministerial team saw him serve as Minister of the Environment (February 2002 - October 2002) until the suspension of the institutions under the GFA in October 2002.

Book References:
Elliott, Sydney. and Flackes, W.D. (1999), Northern Ireland: A Political Directory 1968-1999. Belfast: Blackstaff Press.
Web Sources:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/northern_ireland/1829019.
http://www.stratagem-ni.org/
http://www.ni-assembly.gov.uk/members/biogs/dnesbitt.htm
[Entry written by B.Lynn 5 December 2002]


Newe, Gerard Benedict (b. 5 February 1907)
Politician; Minister of Sate in the Northern Ireland Government 1971-72
[Entry to be included at a later date]


Newman, Kenneth Leslie (b. 15 August 1926)
Police Officer; Chief Constable of the RUC 1976-79

Kenneth Newman's career in the police service began in 1946 when he joined the Palestine Police (1946-48) before returning to Britain to serve with the London Metropolitan Police (1948-73). In 1973 Newman became Senior Deputy Chief Constable of the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) (1973-76) and this was followed in 1976 by his appointment as Chief Constable of the RUC (1976-79). His time in this post was marked by a number of significant developments. To begin with the RUC assumed the more dominant role over security matters under the general policy of 'Ulsterisation' introduced by the Labour government of 1974-79. He also had to frequently defend the force from widespread criticism concerning its manner of interrogating suspects. On leaving the RUC in 1979 Newman took up the position as Commandant of the Police Staff College at Bramshill (1979-82) before becoming in 1982 the Metropolitan Police Commissioner (1982-87). His service to policing was recognised in 1978 by a knighthood.

Book References:
Elliott, Sydney. and Flackes, W.D. (1999), Northern Ireland: A Political Directory 1968-99. Belfast: Blackstaff Press.
Ryder, Chris. (2000), The RUC 1922-2000: A Force Under Fire. London: Arrow.
[Entry written by B.Lynn 5 December 2002]


Nicholson, ('Jim') James Frederick (b. 29 January 1945)
Politician; Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) MEP 1989-present

A native of Armagh Jim Nicholson was educated locally before beginning work on the family farm. His first involvement in politics came in the early 1970s when Nicholson joined the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) and served as Secretary / Organiser of the Mid-South Armagh Unionist Association (1973-83). He was first returned as public representative in 1976 when elected to Armagh City and District Council (1976-1997) and from 1994-95 filled the role of Chairman of the council. In 1982 he became a member of the Northern Ireland Assembly representing the constituency of Armagh (1982-86). At the Westminster general election of June 1983 Nicholson stood as the UUP candidate in the newly created constituency of Newry and South Armagh. With a split in the Nationalist vote he went on to win the seat (1983-86). Then in January 1986 he joined with all sitting Unionist MPs in resigning their Westminster seats. The aim was then to use the subsequent by-elections as the means to highlight their opposition to the 1985 Anglo-Irish Agreement. In the case of Nicholson this move was to backfire and he was to lose the seat to the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP). At the general election in June 1987 he failed to re-capture the constituency from the SDLP. But these setbacks were overcome when he succeeded in being returned in 1989 as an UUP representative to the European Parliament (1989-present).

Book References:
Cochrane, Feargal. (2001), Unionist Politics and the Politics of Unionism since the Anglo-Irish Agreement. Cork: Cork University Press.
Elliott, Sydney. and Flackes, W.D. (1999), Northern Ireland: A Political Directory 1968-99. Belfast: Blackstaff Press.
Hennessey, Thomas. (1997), A History of Northern Ireland 1920-1996. Dublin: Gill & Macmillan.
Web Sources:
http://www.uup.org/
[Entry written by B.Lynn 5 December 2002]


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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