David Bleakley

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Rt. Hon. David Bleakley

The Right Hon. David Wylie Bleakley, CBE (11 January 1925 – 26 June 2017) was a politician in Northern Ireland.

Born in the Strandtown district of Belfast, Bleakley worked as an electrician in the Harland and Wolff dockyards while becoming increasingly active in his trade union. He studied economics at Ruskin College in Oxford, where he struck up a friendship with C. S. Lewis. He later attended Queen's University, Belfast. A committed Christian, he has been a lifelong Anglican – a member of the Church of Ireland – and was head of the department of economics and political studies at Methodist College Belfast from 1969 to 1979.[1] Throughout his life, he has been a lay preacher.[citation needed]

Bleakley joined the Northern Ireland Labour Party (NILP) and contested the Northern Ireland Parliament seat of Belfast Victoria in 1949 and 1953 before finally winning it in 1958. At Stormont, he was made the Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee, but he lost his seat in 1965.[2]

Bleakley ran for the Westminster seat of Belfast East in 1970, winning 40% of the vote. In 1971, Brian Faulkner appointed him as his Minister for Community Relations,[3] but as Bleakley was not an MP, he could only hold this post for six months. He resigned five days before his term expired in order to highlight his disagreement with government policy, specifically the failure to widen the government to include non-Unionist parties, and the decision to introduce internment.[4]

After the Parliament was abolished, Bleakley stood for, and was elected to, the Northern Ireland Assembly [5] and its successor, the Northern Ireland Constitutional Convention. He stood again for Belfast East in the February and October UK general elections,[6] but won only 14% of the vote each time.

By the late 1970s, the NILP was in disarray, and did not stand a candidate for the 1979 European Assembly election. Bleakley instead stood as an "Independent Community Candidate",[7] but took only 1.6% of the votes cast.

During the 1980s, Bleakley sat as a non-partisan member of various quangos. In 1984 received an CBE for his work as chairman of the Northern Ireland Standing Advisory Commission on Human Rights.[8] From 1980 to 1992 he was general secretary of the Irish Council of Churches. In 1992, he joined the Alliance Party of Northern Ireland and was an advisor to the group during the all-party talks.[9] For the 1996 Northern Ireland Forum election, he was a prominent member of the Democratic Partnership list and stood in Belfast East, but was not elected. In 1998, he joined the Labour Party of Northern Ireland and stood in Belfast East in the Assembly elections,[10] receiving 369 first preference votes. The same year, he published C. S. Lewis, at Home in Ireland.[11] He died on 26 June 2017 at the age of 92.[12]

References[edit]

  1. ^ International Who's Who of Authors and Writers 2004. London: Europa Publications Ltd. 2003. p. 59. 
  2. ^ "Northern Ireland Parliamentary Elections Results: Biographies". www.election.demon.co.uk. 
  3. ^ "The Government of Northern Ireland". www.election.demon.co.uk. 
  4. ^ Bleakley resigns calling for new approach in government, The Irish Times, 27 September 1971, p. 5
  5. ^ International Who's Who of Authors and Writers 2004. London: Europa Publications Ltd. 2003. p. 59. 
  6. ^ "Northern Ireland Parliamentary Elections Results: Biographies". www.election.demon.co.uk. 
  7. ^ "Northern Ireland Parliamentary Elections Results: Biographies". www.election.demon.co.uk. 
  8. ^ "Northern Ireland Parliamentary Elections Results: Biographies". www.election.demon.co.uk. 
  9. ^ "Northern Ireland Parliamentary Elections Results: Biographies". www.election.demon.co.uk. 
  10. ^ "Northern Ireland Parliamentary Elections Results: Biographies". www.election.demon.co.uk. 
  11. ^ The Lewis Legacy – Issue 84, Lewis and Ireland: Two New Books
  12. ^ http://www.newsletter.co.uk/news/veteran-ni-labour-politician-and-author-dies-1-8028784
Parliament of Northern Ireland
Preceded by
Bill Henderson
Member of Parliament for Belfast Victoria
1958–1965
Succeeded by
Roy Bradford
Northern Ireland Assembly (1973)
New assembly Assembly Member for East Belfast
1973–1974
Assembly abolished
Northern Ireland Constitutional Convention
New convention Member for East Belfast
1975–1976
Convention dissolved
Political offices
Preceded by
Robert Simpson
Minister of Community Relations
1971
Succeeded by
Basil McIvor