William McCrea (politician)

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The Reverend Doctor
William McCrea
Member of Parliament
for South Antrim
In office
5 May 2005 – 30 March 2015
Preceded by David Burnside
Succeeded by Danny Kinahan
In office
21 September 2000 – 14 May 2001
Preceded by Clifford Forsythe
Succeeded by David Burnside
Member of Parliament
for Mid Ulster
In office
9 June 1983 – 1 May 1997
Preceded by John Dunlop
Succeeded by Martin McGuinness
Member of the Northern Ireland Assembly
for South Antrim
In office
7 March 2007 – 1 July 2010
Preceded by Wilson Clyde
Succeeded by Paul Girvan
Member of the Northern Ireland Assembly
for Mid-Ulster
In office
25 June 1998 – 7 March 2007
Preceded by Office created
Succeeded by Ian McCrea
Personal details
Born (1948-08-06) 6 August 1948 (age 69)
Stewartstown, County Tyrone, Northern Ireland
Nationality British
Political party Democratic Unionist Party
Children 5
Residence Magherafelt, County Tyrone
Alma mater Raveanhill Theological Hall
Profession Clergyman
Website William McCrea

Robert Thomas William McCrea (born 6 August 1948) is a Free Presbyterian minister from Northern Ireland.[1] A former Democratic Unionist Party politician, he represented South Antrim and Mid Ulster as their Member of Parliament.[2]

Early life and education[edit]

McCrea was the youngest of five children born to Robert Thomas (a famer in Stewartstown, Northern Ireland) and Sarah Jayne in August 1948.[3] He was educated in Magherafelt and spent a short time working in Social Security in the Civil Service of Northern Ireland before beginning training as a Free Presbyterian Church of Ulster minister. He undertook this training at Ravenhill Theological Hall, on the Ravenhill Road in Belfast.

McCrea received an Honorary Doctorate of Divinity from Mariette Bible College, Ohio, United States.[4]


McCrea was a Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) member of Magherafelt District Council from its creation in 1973 until he stood down to concentrate on Westminster duties in 2010, and topped the poll in every local government election he contested from 1973–2005.

He ran unsuccessfully for the House of Commons in the 1982 Belfast South by-election. He was Member of Parliament for Mid Ulster from 1983 but lost this seat to Sinn Féin chief negotiator and deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness at the 1997 election. He took South Antrim at a by-election in 2000 caused by the death of Ulster Unionist Party MP, Clifford Forsythe, but failed to retain this seat at the 2001 election. In the 2005 election he regained the seat. He was subsequently defeated by the Ulster Unionist Party in 2015.

In 1996 he was elected to the Northern Ireland Forum for Mid-Ulster.[5] From 1998 to 2007 he was a member of the Northern Ireland Assembly for Mid Ulster. He was therefore a political representative for two separate constituencies (Mid Ulster and South Antrim) from 2000 to 2001 and from 2005 to 2007.

At the 2007 election, he was elected as an Assembly Member for South Antrim. He resigned from the Assembly in 2010, following his return to Westminster at the general election of that year.[6]

He is also the minister of Magherafelt Free Presbyterian Church and has made numerous gospel albums.

Controversy and paramilitary associations[edit]

McCrea was a member of the Shankill Defence Association and in 1971 he was convicted of riotous behaviour in Dungiven.[7][8] In 1975 he led a prayer service at the paramilitary funerals of Wesley Somerville and Harris Boyle. The two soldiers were part of the Glenanne gang which carried out the Miami Showband killings and were accidentally blown up when the bomb they were planting in the band's minibus went off prematurely, killing them instantly.[8] McCrea was the target of a parcel bomb to his home on 9 August 1988, when a package sent by the Irish People's Liberation Organisation was disarmed. McCrea had become suspicious when he noticed the package had a Dublin postmark.[9]

McCrea was criticised when he appeared on a platform at a Portadown rally in support of the senior Ulster loyalist paramilitary Billy Wright, who had been threatened by the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) leadership, in September 1996.[10][11][12][13] Wright was the founder and leader of the Loyalist Volunteer Force (which had broken away from the UVF), and had been threatened after he broke the UVF ceasefire by ordering the death of Catholic civilian Michael McGoldrick.[14][15]

Call for British airstrikes against Irish towns[edit]

A Northern Ireland Office memo released under the thirty-year rule in December 2014 revealed that McCrea had called for the Royal Air Force to carry out "strikes against Dundalk, Drogheda, Crossmaglen and Carrickmore" at the DUP's annual conference in April 1986.[16]

Alternative medicine[edit]

McCrea is a supporter of homeopathy, having signed several early day motions in support of its continued funding on the National Health Service, sponsored by Conservative MP David Tredinnick.[17]


  1. ^ Walker, Stephen. "MPs call on government to secure NI air routes". BBC News. Retrieved 30 August 2012. 
  2. ^ "Profile: William McCrea MP". 
  3. ^ Porter, David; McCrea, William (December 1980). In His Pathway: Story of William McCrea. Lakeland Publishing. 
  4. ^ Northern Ireland Assembly Information Office (2003-11-26). "William McCrea". Northern Ireland Assembly. Retrieved 2016-08-04. 
  5. ^ Northern Ireland elections
  6. ^ Girvan makes Stormont return, Newtownabbey Times, 8 July 2010
  7. ^ Moloney, Ed (2008). Paisley. Poolbeg Press. p. 185. ISBN 978-1-84223-324-5. 
  8. ^ a b Newton Emerson (12 August 2006). "Reg warns of violence". Irish News. Retrieved 25 March 2007. 
  9. ^ Jack Holland & Henry McDonald, INLA – Deadly Divisions, 1994, p. 310
  10. ^ Nicholas Watt (2010-09-14). "Why does Ian Paisley's party show such interest in a mass murderer? | Politics". The Guardian. Retrieved 2016-08-04. 
  11. ^ Gerry Moriarty (2016-04-08). "McCrea defends show of support for Wright". Irishtimes.com. Retrieved 2016-08-04. 
  12. ^ "McCrea challenged to clarify relationship with loyalist murderer". An Phoblacht. 2009-02-05. Retrieved 2016-08-04. 
  13. ^ Martin Dillon (2014-06-23). "God and the Gun: The Church and Irish Terrorism". Google Books. Retrieved 2016-08-04. 
  14. ^ "The Billy Wright Inquiry Oral Hearings". Webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk. 2010-12-10. Archived from the original on 2010-12-10. Retrieved 2016-08-04. 
  15. ^ Neil Root & Ian Hitchings (2011-04-04). "Who Killed Rosemary Nelson?: At last, the full story of the conspiracy". Google Books. Retrieved 2016-08-04. 
  16. ^ Adrian Rutherford (29 December 2014). "State papers: DUP MP William McCrea wanted air strikes launched on the Republic in the 1980s". Belfast Telegraph. Retrieved 29 December 2014. 
  17. ^ Tredinnick, David (29 June 2010). "Early Day Motion #284 British Medical Association Motions on Homeopathy". 

External links[edit]

Northern Ireland Assembly (1982)
New assembly MPA for Mid-Ulster
Assembly abolished
Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
John Dunlop
MP for Mid Ulster
Succeeded by
Martin McGuinness
Preceded by
Clifford Forsythe
MP for South Antrim
Succeeded by
David Burnside
Preceded by
David Burnside
MP for South Antrim
Succeeded by
Danny Kinahan
Northern Ireland Forum
New forum Member for Mid-Ulster
Forum dissolved
Northern Ireland Assembly
New assembly MLA for Mid-Ulster
Succeeded by
Ian McCrea
Preceded by
Wilson Clyde
MLA for Antrim South
Succeeded by
Paul Girvan