Derry-born ex-MP Desmond Boal dies

Desmond Boal pictured in the late 1960s when he was a MP at Stormont.
Desmond Boal pictured in the late 1960s when he was a MP at Stormont.

Desmond Boal, the Derry-born barrister and former Unionist MP at Stormont, has died.

Mr Boal (86) was a Unionist MP for the Shankill constituency in Belfast between 1960 and 1971.

He later left the party to establish the Democratic Unionist Party with Ian Paisley and was the party’s first chairman.

Following a series of disagreements with Paisley over the future direction of the DUP, he resigned from the party in 1974.

Although he continued to have an interest in politics, he never again became actively involved.

Incidentally, Mr. Boal was a member of the defence team during the Raymond Gilmour supergrass trial in the early 1980s.

Among those to pay tribute to Mr. Boal was TUV leader Jim Allister.

He said: “Desmond was a unique talent in both politics and law.

“As MP for Shankill in the old Stormont Parliament, he fought tirelessly for his constituents and was both a vocal opponent of Republicanism and an articulate champion of the Union.

“Desmond’s talent at the criminal bar was unsurpassed. Brilliant in cross examination and unrivalled in the skills of advocacy, I, as a young barrister, learned much from watching him in action. It was a privilege to have known him for these last several decades.

“My thoughts and prayers are with his family and, particularly, his widow at this sad time. I hope that they will know the presence of the Father of Mercies and the God of all comfort as they mourn the loss of a loved one.”

Ulster Unionist leader Mike Nesbitt said Mr Boal would be remembered as a “man of intellect and commitment”.

He added that, in politics or law, he “was a hard man to miss”.