Gregory Campbell (politician)

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Gregory Campbell
Minister of Culture, Arts and Leisure
In office
9 June 2008 – 1 July 2009[1]
First Minister Peter Robinson
Preceded by Edwin Poots
Succeeded by Nelson McCausland
Member of Parliament
for East Londonderry
Assumed office
7 June 2001
Preceded by William Ross
Majority 5,355 (15.3%)
Member of the Northern Ireland Assembly
for East Londonderry
Assumed office
25 June 1998
Preceded by Office Created
Personal details
Born (1953-02-15) 15 February 1953 (age 62)
Derry, Northern Ireland
Nationality British
Political party Democratic Unionist Party
Spouse(s) Frances Campbell[2]
Alma mater University of Ulster
Religion Free Presbyterian

Gregory Lloyd Campbell (born 15 February 1953) is a Northern Ireland unionist politician, and the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) Member of Parliament for East Londonderry.

Early life[edit]

Campbell was born and raised in Derry's Waterside area and was educated at the city's technical college and the University of Ulster's Magee campus. He joined the DUP in the 1970s and was first elected to Londonderry City Council in 1981. Campbell briefly led the local DUP members out of the Council in 1984 when the council changed its name from Londonderry to Derry City Council, although he returned to his seat not long after. He stood down in 2011 after 30 years as a councillor.

Political career[edit]

He was chosen to contest the Foyle constituency in the general election of 1983. He contested the same seat again in the general elections of 1987 and 1992, although each time he finished second behind Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) leader John Hume.

Given that Foyle had a predominantly nationalist population, the increasingly high-profile Campbell was transferred to the more winnable East Londonderry seat, where he ran unsuccessfully in 1997. Campbell won the seat at his second attempt in the 2001 general election, gaining a majority of 1,901 over sitting MP William Ross of the Ulster Unionist Party. He was re-elected in the 2005 general election, this time securing an increased majority of 7,498 over the new UUP candidate David McClarty. He is also a member of the Northern Ireland Assembly, topping the Londonderry East poll (from which six members are elected) in the 1998 election, 2003 and again in March 2007. He was appointed Minister of Regional Development in the Northern Ireland Executive in July 2000.

On 9 June 2008, Campbell took over the Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure, replacing Edwin Poots, following a reshuffle of the DUP's Ministerial team by newly appointed First Minister Peter Robinson. He was replaced in this role by colleague Nelson McCausland following another reshuffle on 22 June 2009 and the announcement by First Minister and DUP leader Peter Robinson that DUP politicians would no longer hold office in the Assembly and serve as MPs at Westminster simultaneously.[citation needed]

In October 2008, Campbell spoke out against the American cartoon The Simpsons, after a St.Patrick's day episode showed a fight between nationalists and unionists. The episode also featured references to the IRA. Campbell said "The Simpsons is a humorous cartoon but the context of using a line like that about an organisation which caused so much death will lead people to have very mixed views,"[3]

In December 2008, Campbell criticised the singer Dido for her song "Let's Do The Things We Normally Do", which referenced lyrics from a song, "The Men Behind the Wire". The original song had been written in response in internment in Northern Ireland and Campbell suggested "she [Dido] should clarify her position so that her fans and the wider public knows where she stands on these things".[4]

He appeared in the BBC Real Lives documentary "At the Edge of the Union", which was temporarily blocked in August 1985 by direct government intervention from the then Home Secretary Leon Brittan. This led to a one-day strike by the National Union of Journalists to defend the independence of the BBC.

In 2011 a man was convicted and was given a suspended jail sentence and fined after posting a menacing message on Facebook about Campbell.[5]

In February 2012, Campbell voiced opposition to the redrawing of the electoral borders in Northern Ireland, stating that they "will have a detrimental effect on the north west."[6]

Campbell supports number of evangelical Protestant groups including a creationist lobby group, the Caleb Foundation.[7]

He has been critical of some Twitter comments by the Derry-born footballer James McClean and has also condemned McClean's decision not to wear a poppy on his shirt in the buildup to Remembrance Sunday in 2012. McClean who plays for Sunderland stated on his Twitter account his favourite song was "The Broad Black Brimmer" by the republican folk group The Wolfe Tones.[8] Campbell added "I've been watching him closely and knew he would slip up sooner or later." Subsequently McClean was banned from using Twitter from his club and Campbell was offered an invite to a Wolfe Tones concert which he declined.[9]

In March 2013, Campbell made a successful parliamentary motion to stop a one-off concept car made by motor company Kia from ever going into production. The show car was unveiled at the Geneva Motor Show, and was named "Provo" after the Italian word Pravda, meaning trial or test. Campbell put forward the motion at the House of Commons to stop any possible development of the car, due to the connotations the name might have in Ireland (the "Provos" being a nickname for the Provisional IRA), despite the fact that the car was never intended to go into production. A spokesperson for Kia said in a statement it would be certain not to market any future car as a "Provo" in the United Kingdom or Republic of Ireland,[10] Adding "This car is a showcase, it's a little bit of frivolity, it's for a motor show in Switzerland designed by an Italian at a design studio in Frankfurt."[11] Campbell also tried to pass a motion in the European Parliament to ban the word "Pravda" from the Italian dictionary. While the motion was unsuccessful, Campbell promised to continue his fight, saying "The use of this word shows Italy's support for terrorism. I'm surprised the British government has not forced the Italians to withdraw this word, as well as others which sound similar to words used by the IRA."[12]

In November 2014, Campbell became embroiled in a controversy after derisively parodying the Irish language while addressing the Northern Ireland Assembly. Mocking the tradition of nationalist MLAs to begin addressing the Assembly with the Irish words "go raibh maith agat, Ceann Comhairle" ("thank you, Speaker"), he opened a question about minority language policy saying "curry my yoghurt, can coca coalyer", an anglicised corruption of the Irish. Campbell stated that he was unwilling to apologise, and was temporarily censured.[13]In inflammatory comments on the Irish language, he announced,"“On behalf of our party let me say clearly, and slowly so that Caitríona Ruane and Gerry Adams understand, we will never agree to an Irish Language Act at Stormont and we will treat their entire wish list as no more than toilet paper.”[14]

Support for capital punishment[edit]

In 2009, Campbell declared his support for capital punishment in "some cases" during a Westminster Parliament debate.[15] In doing so, he joined other members of his party including First Minister of Northern Ireland Peter Robinson. Alban Maginness of the Social Democratic and Labour Party strongly criticised the minister's remarks[16] as did Sinn Féin MLAs.[17]


External links[edit]

Northern Ireland Assembly
Preceded by
New creation
MLA for Londonderry, East
1998 –
Succeeded by
Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
William Ross
Member of Parliament for East Londonderry
Political offices
Preceded by
Peter Robinson
Minister for Regional Development
Succeeded by
Peter Robinson
Preceded by
Edwin Poots
Minister of Culture, Arts and Leisure
Succeeded by
Nelson McCausland