John Laird, Baron Laird

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The Right Honourable Professor
The Baron Laird
Lord Laird.jpg
Member of the House of Lords
Assumed office
16 July 1999
Member of the Northern Ireland Parliament
for Belfast St Anne's
In office
12 November 1970 – 31 March 1972
Preceded by Norman Laird
Succeeded by Parliament suspended
Personal details
Born 23 April 1944
Nationality British
Political party Independent
Other political
Ulster Unionist Party (until 2013)
Occupation Politician

Professor John Dunn Laird, Baron Laird FRSA of Artigarvan (born 23 April 1944) is a life peer and former chairman of the cross-border Ulster-Scots Agency. In 2013 Laird allegedly offered to lobby for a firm against parliamentary rules. Consequently, he resigned from the Ulster Unionist Party.[1]


Whilst Chairman of the Ulster Young Unionist Council in 1970, Laird became the youngest member of the Parliament of Northern Ireland, after winning the seat of Belfast Saint Anne's in a by-election caused by the death of his father, Dr Norman Laird OBE.

He was expelled from the Ulster Unionist Parliamentary Party in January 1972 when he voted for a Democratic Unionist Party censure motion opposing a ban on certain processions planned for The Twelfth.[2] He topped the poll in Belfast West in the 1973 Northern Ireland Assembly election opposed to the proposals of the former Prime Minister Brian Faulkner. He repeated this feat as an Ulster Unionist candidate in the 1975 Constitutional Convention election.

He established John Laird Public Relations in 1976, which, now called JPR,[3] is Northern Ireland's longest established PR company still in existence.

He was created a life peer on 16 July 1999 as Baron Laird, of Artigarvan in the County of Tyrone.[4]

Laird studied at the Royal Belfast Academical Institution.

Ulster Scots[edit]

A proponent of Ulster Scots as a language, Lord Laird wants road signs in Irish, English and Ullans on all roads in Ireland, as "parity of esteem" as signed up for under the Good Friday Agreement. Similarly, he says that the Garda Síochána should be renamed to An Garda Síochána/Hannin Polis.[5] Laird served as head of the Ulster-Scots Agency, before resigning in April 2004, in protest at a cut in government funding for the agency.[6]

Lord Laird found himself at the centre of a minor scandal in 2005, when it was revealed that while chairman of the Ulster-Scots agency, Laird had spent in excess of £2500 of public money on taxis between Belfast and Dublin.[7]

House of Lords[edit]

Laird sat in the House of Lords as an independent.[8] Laird has used parliamentary privilege to speak out against the Irish Republican Army (IRA) in the House of Lords. In May 2005 he claimed that Phil Flynn, an advisor to the Taoiseach, Bertie Ahern, was active in the IRA.[9] In December that year he said that there were 200 IRA "sleepers" in high places in the Republic of Ireland.[10] In November 2007 he again used parliamentary privilege to name senior IRA members who he said were responsible for the murder of south Armagh man Paul Quinn in October.[11] He was suspended from the House on 18 December 2013.[12]


Laird claimed parliamentary expenses of £73,000 in 2008/09, making him the most expensive peer in the House of Lords for that parliamentary year.[13]

2007 election: Donegal[edit]

In December 2006 Laird announced plans to stand in Donegal North-East and Donegal South-West on what he termed a radical Ulster-Scots ticket. He said he intended to use the publicity platform of his candidacy to highlight what he called the double standards of the Irish Government in relation to the Ulster-Scots movement. However, after suffering a mild heart attack he did not stand.[14]


The following is a list of books, plays, and films for which Lord John Laird has been responsible:[citation needed]

  • Videos Trolleybus Days in Belfast (1992)
  • Swansong of Steam in Ulster (1993)
  • Waterloo Sunset (1994)
  • Rails on the Isle of Wight (1994)
  • The Twilight of Steam in Ulster (1994)
  • A Struggle to be Heard – by a True Ulster Liberal (2010)


See also[edit]


  1. ^ "BBC News – Three peers 'offered to lobby for fake firm'". 1 January 1970. Retrieved 2 June 2013. 
  2. ^ Northern Ireland Parliamentary Election Results: Boroughs: Belfast Election Demon
  3. ^ JPR NI.
  4. ^ "No. 55559". The London Gazette. 21 July 1999. p. 7857. 
  5. ^ "Campaigning lord demands we mind our language". Retrieved 2 June 2013. 
  6. ^ "Ulster-Scots chairman resigns". BBC News. 23 April 2004. Retrieved 2 June 2013. 
  7. ^ "Agency spending". 9 February 2005. Retrieved 2 June 2013. 
  8. ^ Parliament: Northern Ireland: One brief debate transfers Ulster back to its people, The Independent, 1 December 1999.
  9. ^ Devenport, Mark (25 May 2005). "Privilege used to allege IRA link". BBC News. Retrieved 2 June 2013. 
  10. ^ 200 IRA moles in government, claims peer, Irish Independent, 25 December 2005.
  11. ^ Republicans 'involved in killing', BBC News, 13 November 2007.
  12. ^ Ineligible members of the House of Lords. Accessed 22 February 2014.
  13. ^ "Expense claims: Lord Laird most expensive peer". BBC News. 11 December 2009. Retrieved 2 June 2013. 
  14. ^ UU peer recovering from heart attack, UTV News, 20 January 2007.

External links[edit]

Parliament of Northern Ireland
Preceded by
Norman Laird
Member of Parliament for Belfast St Anne's
Parliament abolished
Northern Ireland Assembly (1973)
New assembly Assembly Member for West Belfast
Assembly abolished
Northern Ireland Constitutional Convention
New convention Member for West Belfast
Convention dissolved