Tragic Death Stuns Unionism; Political Parties United in Tribute to UUP President

Article excerpt

THE tragic death of Sir Josias Cunningham in a car crash yesterday was greeted with immense sadness by the leaders of all the main political parties in Northern Ireland.

However, one of the people closest to the Ulster Unionist Council president, UUP leader David Trimble, was still unaware of the tragedy late last night, as he is on holiday abroad.

While party colleagues continued to try to make contact with the party leader, it was left to his deputy, John Taylor, to express the party's grief, while another colleague, Sir Reg Empey, said Mr Trimble would be devastated at the death.

Mr Taylor said: "On behalf of the Parliamentary Party, I extend our sympathy and condolences to the Cunningham family.

"This news has come as a terrible shock to us all. Josias was a steady rock, one whom all in Ulster politics respected.

"He was a great steadying influence within the party at times of debate and division.

"His great contribution, consistent with the record of the Cunningham family over several generations, was to uphold the Union between Northern Ireland and Great Britain and to recognise that this depended upon a strong and united Ulster Unionist Party.

"He gave of his time and effort unsparingly to uphold these two objectives. …