Tom Elliott (politician)

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Tom Elliott
Tom Elliott.png
Elliott speaking in the Northern Ireland Assembly, March 2015
Leader of the Ulster Unionist Party
In office
22 September 2010 – 31 March 2012
Deputy Danny Kennedy
John McCallister
Preceded by Reg Empey
Succeeded by Mike Nesbitt
UUP Spokesperson for Justice and the Environment
In office
22 September 2010 – 24 June 2015
Preceded by Reg Empey
Succeeded by Neil Somerville
Member of Parliament
for Fermanagh and South Tyrone
In office
8 May 2015 – 3 May 2017
Preceded by Michelle Gildernew
Succeeded by Michelle Gildernew
Member of the Legislative Assembly
for Fermanagh and South Tyrone
In office
26 November 2003 – 24 June 2015
Preceded by Sam Foster
Succeeded by Neil Somerville
Personal details
Born Thomas Beatty Elliott
(1963-12-11) 11 December 1963 (age 54)
Enniskillen, Northern Ireland, UK
Political party Ulster Unionist Party
Spouse(s) Anne
Children 2
Alma mater College of Agriculture, Food and Rural Enterprise
Website Commons website
Military service
Allegiance  United Kingdom
Service/branch British Army
Unit Royal Irish Regiment
Ulster Defence Regiment
Battles/wars The Troubles

Thomas Beatty Elliott (born 11 December 1963) is a United Kingdom politician who was a Member of the Northern Ireland Assembly (MLA) for Fermanagh and South Tyrone from 2003–15, its Member of Parliament (MP) from 2015–17 and was the Leader of the Ulster Unionist Party from 2010–12.[1]

He was a soldier in the Ulster Defence Regiment (UDR) from 1982–92 and its successor the Royal Irish Regiment from 1992–99.[2] He backed a Leave vote in the 2016 EU membership referendum.[2]

Education[edit]

Elliott was educated primary and high schools in his native Ballinamallard. Later, he earned a College Certificate in Agriculture from the Enniskillen College of Agriculture.[3]

Political[edit]

Elliott has been an activist in the Ballinamallard Ward Ulster Unionist committee for many years and is chairman of that committee. He has also been Honorary Secretary of the Fermanagh Divisional Unionist Association since 1998 and was chairman of the internal Ulster Unionist ad-hoc Review Group for its duration.[3]

Elliott was the election agent for James Cooper in 2001 Westminster campaign and in June of the same year was elected an Ulster Unionist Councillor on Fermanagh District Council representing Erne North. He was re-elected May 2005 but resigned to allow a Co-option in August 2010. In November 2003 he was elected as a member of the Northern Ireland Assembly representing Fermanagh and South Tyrone, a position to which he was re-elected in March 2007 and May 2011. In this role he served as Ulster Unionist Assembly spokesperson on Agriculture and Rural Affairs.

Elliott was selected as the UUP candidate for Fermanagh and South Tyrone UK Parliament constituency in the 2005 general election and came in third behind the Sinn Féin and DUP candidates. The UUP share of the vote fell from 34% in 2001 to 18% in 2005.

He was reselected for the 2010 general election, but stood down in favour of independent Unionist candidate Rodney Connor. With the DUP, TUV, UKIP and the Conservatives not contesting the seat in 2015 Elliott, as the sole unionist candidate, won the seat at the 2015 election. He lost the seat in the 2017 general election, with 45.5% of the vote to 47.2% for Sinn Féin's Michelle Gildernew.

Party leadership[edit]

In June 2010, Elliott announced his intention to run in the Ulster Unionist Party leadership election, 2010.[4] He was elected although not without some controversy. It emerged shortly before the leadership election that a quarter of the UUP membership came from Fermanagh and South Tyrone, a disproportionately high figure.[5] The Phoenix, an Irish political magazine, described Elliott as a "blast from the past" and that his election signified "a significant shift to the right" by the UUP.[citation needed]

In March 2012, he announced that he would step down as leader of the Ulster Unionists.[6]

When asked about his reasoning, he said that "some people have not given [him] a fair opportunity at developing and progressing many initiatives", going on to say that some of the hostility began immediately after he was selected as leader. He also accused some party members of making his job more difficult by briefing journalists.[7]

His resignation triggered the 2012 Ulster Unionist Party leadership election.[8]

When Elliott took over the leadership of the UUP in 2010 the party had recently received 102,361 votes which amounted to 15.2% of the vote.[9] In Elliott's first election in charge in the 2011 Assembly elections the UUP only received 87,531 votes which amounted to 13.2% of the vote and resulted in the party losing two of its MLAs.[10] On the same day in 2011 the UUP lost 16 of its Council seats also.[11]

Membership of the Loyal Orders[edit]

Elliott is a member of the Orange Order within Fermanagh, the Royal Black Preceptory and the Kesh branch of the Apprentice Boys of Derry (ABOD).[12]

Controversies[edit]

Elliott stated publicly that he wouldn't attend gay pride parades or Gaelic Athletic Association matches,[13] but did later meet with some gay rights groups and GAA figures in Northern Ireland.[14][15]

After he was elected in the 2011 Assembly election, in his victory speech in Omagh Elliott referred to the Irish tricolour as a "flag of a foreign nation". When he started to receive heckles from the audience, he went on to describe nationalist supporters holding Irish flags as "the scum of Sinn Féin".[16][17] Although initially refusing to retract his comments [18] he later issued an apology of sorts "to all those good nationalists, republicans, even Sinn Fein voters who felt offended by it."[19]

In August 2012, Elliott opposed money being spent on public inquests into people killed by the British Army and loyalist paramilitaries during the Troubles. He urged relatives of those killed by the IRA—whom he called "the real victims"—to band together to "choke the system up" and stop such inquests happening.[20] He later clarified his remarks saying "At no stage did I suggest or infer that anyone killed in the Troubles, who was not murdered by the IRA, were ‘not real victims’".[21]

In February 2016, Elliot was criticised when he provided a statement to a court on behalf of a convicted benefit cheat. When the judge in the case said he received a letter from a "senior politician" that spoke "glowingly" of the convicted man's work in the voluntary sector.[22] Elliott denied it was a character reference. That same month, he was criticised by a judge for writing a testimonial for a man convicted for driving while disqualified.[23] Although not naming Elliott in court he said he "crossed the line of the independence of the court" and "trespassed on the sentencing process."[24]

Elliott settled a defamation case with Attorney General John Larkin by issuing a statement through his barrister and donating an undisclosed sum of money to charity.[25] Under the terms of the settlement the following statement was read out by Elliott's senior counsel. "On 20 April 2016, during the course of a live debate on the Stephen Nolan BBC Radio Ulster show, Mr Elliott made a number of statements which may have been taken to imply that the attorney general, John Larkin, had failed to discharge his professional duties impartially and with fairness. Mr Elliott wishes to confirm that he did not intend to impugn the integrity of Mr Larkin or for any such inferences to be taken from his statements. Mr Elliott regrets any embarrassment which this may have caused Mr Larkin."[26]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Gareth Gordon. "Ulster Unionists pick Tom Elliott as new party leader". BBC News. Retrieved 7 February 2017.
  2. ^ a b "Borderline fear: Brexit jitters awake past anxieties", Irish Times, 7 November 2016; retrieved 8 June 2017.
  3. ^ a b "Official Tom Elliott webpage". Official website. Tom Elliot MLA. Archived from the original on 1 July 2012. Retrieved 11 June 2012.
  4. ^ "Elliott announces UUP leadership bid". BBC News. 22 June 2010.
  5. ^ "Legal threat to the UUP leadership race ebbs". The Belfast Telegraph. 17 September 2010. Archived from the original on 20 July 2012. Retrieved 8 May 2011.
  6. ^ Clarke, Liam. "UUP's 'decent man' Tom Elliott has had enough of relentless hostility". The Belfast Telegraph. Archived from the original on 19 April 2013. Retrieved 23 August 2012.
  7. ^ Edwards, Rodney (9 March 2012). "EXCLUSIVE: Tom Elliott QUITS as UUP leader – First Interview". The Impartial Reporter. Archived from the original on 13 March 2012. Retrieved 11 June 2012.
  8. ^ "Tom Elliott to quit as leader of Ulster Unionist party". The Guardian. 8 March 2012. Retrieved 11 June 2012.
  9. ^ Whyte, Dr Nicholas. "2010 Westminster Elections". ark.ac.uk. Retrieved 8 June 2017.
  10. ^ Whyte, Dr Nicholas. "Northern Ireland Assembly Elections 2011". ark.ac.uk.
  11. ^ "Alliance makes strong gains but UUP loses 16 seats as its vote freefalls". BelfastTelegraph.co.uk. Retrieved 8 June 2017.
  12. ^ McDonald, Henry (6 May 2015). "Divisions run deep on Lough Erne's banks, in the UK's most marginal seat". The Guardian. Retrieved 18 September 2015.
  13. ^ "I won't go to GAA games and gay events, says Tom Elliott". Belfasttelegraph.co.uk. Archived from the original on 24 July 2012. Retrieved 8 May 2011.
  14. ^ "UUP leader Tom Eliott will meet with gay community". Pinknews.co.uk. Retrieved 18 April 2014.
  15. ^ "Elliott's 'positive talks with GAA'". Newsletter.co.uk. Retrieved 18 April 2014.
  16. ^ "Tom Elliott attacks 'scum of Sinn Féin'". Bbc.co.uk. Retrieved 8 May 2011.
  17. ^ "Tom Elliott apologies for 'scum' remark". bbc.co.uk. Retrieved 11 May 2011.
  18. ^ Staff. "UUP leader defiant over 'scum' outburst". Belfast Newsletter. Retrieved 4 August 2016.
  19. ^ "Tom Elliott apologises for Sinn Féin 'scum' comments". BBC News. 11 May 2011.
  20. ^ "Sean Brown and Francis Bradley 'not real victims' says Tom Elliot". Mid-Ulster Mail.
  21. ^ "Elliott clarifies victims remarks". News Letter.
  22. ^ "Ulster Unionist MP Tom Elliott won't reveal Clive Miller letter for legal reasons". Impartial Reporter.
  23. ^ "Tom Elliott:Judge criticises Ulster Unionist MP for letter sent to court in support of former soldier". BBC News.
  24. ^ "Judge slams MP Tom Elliott's interference over letter on behalf of banned driver". Belfast Telegraph.
  25. ^ "Tom Elliott and John Larkin settle defamation case". EUROPE Breaking News.
  26. ^ "Tom Elliott and John Larkin settle defamation case". BBC News.
Northern Ireland Assembly
Preceded by
Sam Foster
Member of the Legislative Assembly
for Fermanagh and South Tyrone

2003–2015
Succeeded by
Neil Somerville
Party political offices
Preceded by
Reg Empey
Leader of the Ulster Unionist Party
2010–2012
Succeeded by
Mike Nesbitt
Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Michelle Gildernew
Member of Parliament
for Fermanagh and South Tyrone

20152017
Succeeded by
Michelle Gildernew