Drew Nelson (politician)

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Drew Nelson (c. 1956 – 10 October 2016) was a Northern Irish solicitor and politician. He was the Grand Secretary of the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland from 2005-16.


Nelson studied at Queen's University Belfast and attained his Bachelor of Laws in 1981. He set up his own law practice two years after graduation.[1]He was District Master of Lower Iveagh District in County Down. A member of Listullycurran LOL 616. He was also a member of the Royal Black Institution. [2]

In the 1992 general election, Nelson was selected by the South Down constituency of the Ulster Unionist Party to succeed Enoch Powell as parliamentary candidate. He lost to the incumbent, Social Democratic and Labour Party candidate Eddie McGrady by 6000 votes.[3] In 1989, he topped the poll in Dromore DEA and was elected to Banbridge District Council.[4] He retained his seat in 1993[5] and went on to become Chairman of the Council[1] before standing down in 1997. In 1996, he was fourth on the UUP list for election to the Northern Ireland Forum in South Belfast[6] In 2004, he left the UUP. The following year, he became Grand Secretary of the Orange Institution.[1]

During his period of office, Nelson was part of Orange delegations which met with senior political and civic figures, including successive British First Ministers and Secretary of States, United States ambassadors, Irish Taoiseach Enda Kenny, former Irish President Mary McAleese, Seán Cardinal Brady, SDLP members, and others.


Nelson died on 10 October 2016, following a short illness, aged 60.[2][7]

Political stances[edit]

In 1996, Nelson expressed support for the UUP ending or reforming its link with the Orange Order in an attempt to broaden its appeal, for which he was heckled.[8]

He supported power sharing with the SDLP in a devolved unitary legislature,[9] but opposed the 1998 Belfast Agreement.[10]


  1. ^ a b c Bowcott, Owen (14 July 2006). "'He is bringing common sense to the Orange Order'". The Guardian. Retrieved 11 October 2016. 
  2. ^ a b Bell, Jonny (10 October 2016). "Orange Order Grand Secretary Drew Nelson dies aged 60". Belfast Telegraph. Retrieved 11 October 2016. 
  3. ^ South Down. Northern Ireland Social and Political Archive.
  4. ^ Local Government Elections 1985 - 1989: Banbridge. Northern Ireland Social and Political Archive.
  5. ^ District Council Elections, 1993-2011. Northern Ireland Social and Political Archive.
  6. ^ 1996 Forum Elections: Candidates in South Belfast. Northern Ireland Social and Political Archive.
  7. ^ "Orange Order: Drew Nelson dies aged 60". BBC News. 10 October 2016. Retrieved 11 October 2016. 
  8. ^ Cochrane, Feargal (2001). Unionist politics and the politics of Unionism since the Anglo-Irish Agreement. pp. 343-44.
  9. ^ Schulze, Kirsten (2007). The Northern Ireland political process: A viable approach to conflict resolution? in Irish Political Studies. Volume 12 Issue 1. pp. 92-110 at p. 102.
  10. ^ Kaufmann, Eric P. (2009). The Orange Order: a contemporary Northern Irish history. Oxford: Oxford University Press. p. 216. ISBN 0199532036.