Samuel "Sammy" Wilson (born 4 April 1953) is a British politician from Northern Ireland who is a member of parliament (MP) and a Member of the Legislative Assembly (MLA) for East Antrim. He served as Lord Mayor of Belfast in 1986 – 1987; and again from June 2000 to June 2001. He was the first person from the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) to hold the office. He previously served as Minister of Finance and Personnel and Minister of the Environment in the Northern Ireland Executive.
Wilson was born in Belfast, Northern Ireland, the son of Alexander Wilson, pastor of Bangor Elim Pentecostal Church. Both of his parents died of Alzheimers. He was educated at Methodist College Belfast, and then went on study Economics and Politics at both Queen's University, Belfast and Stranmillis Teaching College. Wilson's first job was a teaching post at Grosvenor Grammar School. He later became the Head of Economics at the school, and also served as Assistant Chief Examiner for A-level Economics for the CCEA exam board in Northern Ireland.
Outside of politics, Wilson is a keen gardener and motorbike enthusiast as well as taking an interest in animals and birds. In May 1996, the Sunday World newspaper published a series of candid holiday photographs showing Wilson and his girlfriend naked. Wilson subsequently sued the paper for damages, which were settled out of court. After the incident Martin McGuinness of Sinn Féin addressed the Northern Ireland Assembly by saying "It is also very good to come across someone like Mr Sammy Wilson, whom I have never met, and it is great to see him today with his clothes on."
His widest exposure on a UK-wide stage came on The Eleven O'Clock Show, when he participated in an 'interview' with comedy character Ali G. This included him telling a joke about the Pope and his party leader Ian Paisley.
DUP Press Officer
Wilson began his political life as the Democratic Unionist Party's Press Officer. He served as Press Officer from 1982–1996. In 1981, he was elected as a DUP councillor to Belfast City Council, a position that he held until March 2010. Through his membership of the city council, Wilson became the first person from the DUP to serve as Lord Mayor of Belfast in 1986/1987. Sammy Wilson stood in East Belfast at the 1982 Assembly elections but was not elected.
In January 1994, the Ulster Defence Association (UDA) released a document calling for ethnic cleansing and repartition, with the goal of making Northern Ireland wholly Protestant. The plan was to be implemented should the British Army withdraw from Northern Ireland. The vastly Catholic and nationalist areas would be handed over to the Republic of Ireland, and those left stranded in the "Protestant state" would be "expelled, nullified, or interned". Controversially, Wilson called some parts of the plan a "very valuable return to reality". He added: "[it] shows that some loyalist paramilitaries are looking ahead and contemplating what needs to be done to maintain our separate Ulster identity".
MLA for East Belfast
Wilson again served as Lord Mayor of Belfast between June 2000 and June 2001. During his time as Mayor, the Andersonstown News set-up a website to highlight Wilson's "naked sectarianism". The site included such quotes from Wilson as: "The GAA is the sporting wing of the IRA"; "I don't care if [gays] are ratepayers. As far as I am concerned they are perverts"; "Taigs don't pay rates"; and "They [Sinn Féin voters in the Oldpark area of Belfast] are sub-human animals". The Andersonstown News had challenged Wilson to take legal action if he felt he was being misrepresented. He did not. The website voluntarily shut-down when he ended his tenure as Mayor.
MLA and MP for East Antrim
In the 2003 Assembly election Wilson stood successfully in the East Antrim constituency, alongside fellow DUP candidates George Dawson and David Hilditch. This momentum was carried through to the 2005 Westminster Election on 5 May which saw Wilson defeat Roy Beggs of the Ulster Unionist Party, to become Member of Parliament for East Antrim with 49.6% of the vote.
Wilson is a former member of the Northern Ireland Policing Board and Northern Ireland Housing Council.
In his role as DUP education spokesman, Wilson was one of the most vocal critics of Education Minister Caitríona Ruane's plan to abolish academic selection and introduce a comprehensive school system in Northern Ireland.
He resigned from his position as chair of the Education Committee when he took up his role as Minister for the Environment.
Minister for the Environment
His appointed and tenure as Environment Minister was heavily criticised by environmental groups. Wilson himself states that man-made climate change is a "myth based on dodgy science" and "an hysterical pseudo-religion." He says that "reasoned debate must replace the scaremongering of the green climate alarmists" and "resources should be used to adapt to the consequences of climate change, rather than King Canute-style vainly trying to stop it". This, along with his opposition to the creation of an independent environmental protection agency and his support of nuclear power, led the Green Party to condemn Wilson's "deeply irresponsible message" and give him the 'Green Wash' award for being the MLA most likely to damage the environment. Wilson's beliefs on climate change have been likened to "a cigarette salesman denying that smoking causes cancer" by John Woods of Friends of the Earth, who added that "Ironically, if we listen to him Northern Ireland will suffer economically as we are left behind by smarter regions who are embracing the low carbon economy of the future".
Wilson came under renewed criticism in February 2009 when he blocked the broadcast of climate change advertisements on television, calling them part of an "insidious propaganda campaign". He also stated "that future ecological messages could only be promoted in Northern Ireland with his permission". New Scientist magazine stated that despite the minister's comments, "the overwhelming majority of scientists do agree that there is a greater than 90% chance that the rate at which we burn fossil fuels is driving climate change".
Minister for Finance and Personnel
In the June 2009 Executive reshuffle, Wilson became Minister of Finance and Personnel. He was praised by First Minister Peter Robinson, who said that Wilson was the "most qualified Finance Minister that Northern Ireland has had in decades".
In August 2009 Wilson was the subject of criticism from Northern Ireland Council for Ethnic Minorities for saying that "jobs should go to people born in Northern Ireland before going to economic migrants". Following racist attacks on Romanian people in Belfast, Wilson retorted that "charges of racism were always coincided with the holding out of the hand for more money". The Northern Ireland Assembly Standards Committee dismissed complaints made against him over these remarks.
Wilson was commended for displaying leadership in relationship to the civil service and received cross party support for stopping bonuses to senior civil servants during the recession.
East Antrim MP Sammy Wilson has urged for a final date for the completion of roads and sewers work at Larne's Lindara development, saying "For almost three years, I have been in regular contact with Roads Service and NI Water about the completely unacceptable state of the roads, sewage and drainage in Lindara. It has been a long-running saga that has been of great annoyance to local residents and I am pleased that the end is now in sight."
Wilson was replaced as Finance Minister in July 2013 by DUP colleague Simon Hamilton in a planned reshuffle.
|General Election 2010: East Antrim|
|Sinn Féin||Oliver McMullan||2,064||6.8||+1.4|
|General Election 2005: East Antrim|
|Sinn Féin||James McKeown||828||2.6||+0.1|
|Rainbow Dream Ticket||David Kerr||147||0.5||+0.5|
|DUP gain from UUP||Swing||11.7%|
|General Election 2001: East Antrim|
|Sinn Féin||Janette Graffan||903||2.5||+0.9|
|General Election 1992: Strangford|
|Natural Law||David Shaw||295||0.7||N/A|
- Northern Ireland Assembly Information Office. "Ministers and their Departments, Northern Ireland Assembly". Niassembly.gov.uk. Retrieved 29 January 2011.
- Northern Ireland Assembly Information Office (1 July 1998). "Northern Ireland Assembly Report Wednesday July 1, 1999". Niassembly.gov.uk. Retrieved 29 January 2011.
- Owen Bowcott (20 May 2009). "Alzheimer's barbs spark row in Stormont". London: Guardian. Retrieved 29 January 2011.
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- Ali G interview at 3:48
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- "CAIN". Cain.ulst.ac.uk. Retrieved 29 January 2011.
- Sectarian attacks: June 2001, Pat Finucane Centre
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- "Wilson row over green 'alarmists'". BBC News. 5 September 2008. Retrieved 29 January 2011.
- "Quit call over blocked green ad". BBC News. 9 February 2009. Retrieved 29 January 2011.
- Henry McDonald, Ireland correspondent (10 February 2009). "Calls for Stormont environment minister to quit over CO2 ad ban". London: The Guardian. Retrieved 29 January 2011.
- Stingley, Jeremy (9 February 2009). "The environment minister who is anything but green – Short Sharp Science". New Scientist. Retrieved 29 January 2011.
- "DUP reshuffle". BBC. 22 June 2009. Retrieved 29 January 2011.
- "Finance Minister Sammy Wilson clashes with group over racism". Belfasttelegraph.co.uk. 7 August 2009. Retrieved 29 January 2011.
- "PM condemns Romanian hate attacks". BBC News. 17 June 2009. Retrieved 29 January 2011.
- "Wilson displays leadership quality on public service bonuses". Irishtimes.com. 9 September 2009. Retrieved 29 January 2011.
- "NI enduring 'worst ever' slowdown". BBC News. 10 November 2009. Retrieved 29 January 2011.
- "Sammy Wilson cleared over jobs for locals complaint". BBC News. 25 March 2010. Retrieved 29 January 2011.
- "The Larne Times – Wilson presses for completion of roads and sewers at Lindara". The Larne Times. The Larne Times. Retrieved 29 August 2012.
- Westminster Candidates, Ulster Unionist Party, 20 March 2010
- "Gerry Lynch Alliance candidate for East Antrim". BBC News. 26 February 2010. Retrieved 29 January 2011.
- "Battle of the Sammys in East Antrim | Traditional Unionist Voice". Tuv.org.uk. Retrieved 29 January 2011.
|Wikiquote has a collection of quotations related to: Sammy Wilson|
- Official website of Sammy Wilson MP MLA
- Guardian Unlimited Politics – Ask Aristotle: Sammy Wilson MP
- TheyWorkForYou.com – Sammy Wilson MP
- Maiden Speech : House of Commons – 18 May 2005
|Northern Ireland Assembly|
|MLA for Belfast East
|MLA for East Antrim
|Parliament of the United Kingdom|
|Member of Parliament for East Antrim
|Lord Mayor of Belfast
John J. D. Gilmore
|Lord Mayor of Belfast
|Minister of the Environment
|Minister of Finance and Personnel