Sylvia Hermon

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Sylvia, Lady Hermon
Sylvia Hermon MP, North Down.jpg
Lady Hermon in January 2014
Member of Parliament
for North Down
Assumed office
7 June 2001
Preceded by Robert McCartney
Majority 9,202 (25.6%)
Personal details
Born Sylvia Eileen Paisley
(1955-08-11) 11 August 1955 (age 61)
Galbally, Northern Ireland
Nationality British
Political party Independent
Ulster Unionist (1998–2010)
Spouse(s) Sir Jack Hermon
Children 2
Alma mater Aberystwyth University
The College of Law
Profession Law Lecturer
Religion Presbyterian[1]

Sylvia Eileen, Lady Hermon (née Paisley; born 11 August 1955) is a Northern Irish politician. Since 2001, she has been the Member of Parliament for the constituency of North Down, first elected for the Ulster Unionist Party, but is now an independent. She is the widow of Sir Jack Hermon, former Chief Constable of the Royal Ulster Constabulary.

On 25 March 2010, Lady Hermon announced that she was resigning from the Ulster Unionist Party, and would fight the next general election as an independent candidate. Her decision was triggered by the UUP's alliance with the Conservative Party.[2] She successfully retained her seat in the May 2010 election with a large gain in her share of the vote, increasing her majority,[3] doing so again in the May 2015 election.[4]


Born Sylvia Eileen Paisley in the mainly Republican area of Galbally, Dungannon, County Tyrone, her father was Robert Paisley, a farmer, and she had three sisters. The family saw tragedy when Hermon's mother accidentally drowned when Hermon was four. She went to Dungannon High School before studying Law at the University of Wales, Aberystwyth.[5]

She went on to lecture in Law at the Queen's University of Belfast at the same time as David Trimble. She did not enter politics until 1998 when she joined the Ulster Unionist Party, having been impressed by the role the UUP played in negotiating the Belfast Agreement.

On 6 November 2008 her husband Sir John Hermon died. Shortly afterward, her father also died.[6]

She is a longstanding supporter of the Alzheimer's Research Trust and helped launch its Northern Ireland network centre.[7]

Parliamentary career[edit]

Within the UUP, Hermon was regarded as being on the more liberal and social democratic wing of the party along with Ken Maginnis. Hermon was chosen as UUP candidate for the North Down constituency to contest the 2001 general election and went on to defeat the incumbent Robert McCartney by over 7,000 votes. During the election she gained the support of the local branch of the Alliance Party of Northern Ireland who withdrew their own candidate.[citation needed]

Hermon became Chair of the North Down branch of the UUP in 2001 and held this position until 2003. In 2001 she was also appointed UUP Spokesperson for Youth and Women's Issues, Home Affairs and Trade and Industry. She subsequently lost the Trade and Industry portfolio and took responsibility for Culture, Media and Sport in 2002. Outside of the UUP, Hermon has also been involved in policing support and pensioners' rights campaigns.[8]

Hermon was the only Ulster Unionist to be returned to Westminster in the 2005 general election and as a result figured in consideration for who would succeed David Trimble as party leader.[9] Initially considered to be amongst the frontrunners, Hermon eventually declined the opportunity, feeling that she could not combine it with her care duties for her husband, who suffered from Alzheimer's disease, and instead supported the unsuccessful bid of Alan McFarland.[10]

In 2009, Lady Hermon announced her opposition to the Ulster Unionist link-up with the Conservative Party. She declared, in an unplanned announcement, during an interview in her constituency office, "At the present time, I can't see myself standing under a Conservative banner.... If my party chooses to move to call themselves by a different name, I'm terribly sorry and terribly disappointed by that but I remain an Ulster Unionist. That was certainly my mandate and I've loved serving the people of North Down. They have stood by me through the most difficult of times and if they choose and wish me to serve them I would do my very best to do that."[11]

On 23 February 2010, Lady Hermon confirmed that she would not be seeking the nomination as a Conservative and Unionist candidate.[12] On 6 May 2010 standing as an Independent candidate she was re-elected with a majority of over 14,000 votes ahead of the UCUNF candidate.[13] She was re-elected in May 2015, again as an Independent candidate.[14]


External links[edit]

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Robert McCartney
Member of Parliament for North Down