|Deputy Leader of NI21|
6 June 2013
|Preceded by||Position created|
|Member of the Northern Ireland Assembly
for South Down
7 March 2007
|Preceded by||Dermot Nesbitt|
20 February 1972 |
Newry, United Kingdom
Ulster Unionist (before 2013)
John McCallister, MLA (born 20 February 1972) is a Northern Irish Unionist politician who, in 2007, was elected to the Northern Ireland Assembly as an Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) member for South Down. On 14 February 2013, McCallister announced that he had resigned from the UUP due to its decision to engage in an electoral pact with the Democratic Unionist Party.
A native of Rathfriland, John McCallister has had a strong interest in agriculture and environmental issues in the community and voluntary sector and has been assigned to serve on the Committee for Health, Social Services and Public Safety and the Committee for Regional Development. He has been a member of the Young Farmers' Clubs of Ulster (YFCU) since 1984 and, in 2003–05, served as YFCU president.
McCallister introduced the Bill which became the Caravans Act (Northern Ireland), 2011 to give legal protection to holiday-makers who stay in caravans and to people who live permanently in park homes. The Bill passed the Assembly in February 2011, and received Royal Assent on 16 March; the Speaker of the Northern Ireland Assembly congratulated him on being the first person to guide a Private Member's Bill onto the statute book in Northern Ireland since 1931.
UUP deputy leader
Following the election of Tom Elliott as UUP leader, McCallister was appointed the Party's deputy leader. The following year the UUP Whip Fred Cobain lost his seat in the Assembly and McCallister was chosen to replace him.
After attending a Sinn Féin conference in November 2011 in Newry he issued an apology for "unionist failings" in the past. Families Acting for Innocent Relatives (FAIR) leader and prominent unionist activist Willie Frazer stated that people in the unionist community were "appalled" by McCallister's remarks.
In March 2012 he performed an emergency delivery of a baby on his wife when they were unable to reach the hospital on time.
He has stated the importance of his party reaching out to Catholic voters. In contrast with some previous Unionist leaders he would happily support his local GAA team and would have no opposition to Gay Pride marches.
UUP leadership election of March 2012
McCallister fought the UUP leadership in March 2012 losing to Mike Nesbitt by 129 votes to 536.
McCallister was sacked by Mike Nesbitt as UUP deputy leader on 1 October 2012 for making a speech criticising unionist unity, which was seen by Nesbitt as an attack on his leadership.
Resignation from the UUP
On 14 February 2013, McCallister announced that he had resigned from the UUP in reaction to the decision to field a unionist unity candidate in the Mid-Ulster by-election. He said that he will now sit as an Independent Unionist in the Assembly. In an interview the following day Basil McCrea, who had also resigned from the UUP, suggested that he and McCallister were preparing to launch a new moderate unionist party.
- John McCallister resigns from the UUP
- "Caravan 'rights' bill is passed at Stormont". BBC News online. 16 February 2011.
- Official Report (Northern Ireland), 21 March 2011.
- "Sir Reg Empey steps down as minister in UUP reshuffle". BBC News. 27 October 2010.
- "John McCallister is the new Ulster Unionist Chief Whip replacing Fred Cobain. Hopes to still be deputy leader." BBC
- Willie Frazer furious over UUP deputy's apology for Unionist failings Belfast Telegraph 21 November 2011
- Special Deliver for UUP Candidate
- "UUP needs to reach out to Catholics"-McCallister Belfast Telegraph 29 March 2012
- Clarke, Liam. "Belfast Telegraph – John McCallister: Man who aims to be leader of the opposition". Belfast Telegraph. Belfast Telegraph. Retrieved 26 August 2012.
- McCallister sacked as UUP deputy leader over unionist unity speech BBC News 1 October 2012
- Basil McCrea 'likely to form new party' to challenge DUP and UUP
|Northern Ireland Assembly|
|MLA for Down South
|Deputy Leader of the Ulster Unionist Party
|Chief Whip of the Ulster Unionist Party
|Deputy Leader of NI21