Former power-sharing minister in NI dies

A forward thinking unionist minister in the first failed attempt at a power-sharing government in Northern Ireland 30 years ago died today.

Basil McIvor, 79, collapsed and died while playing golf in Ballynahinch, Co Down.

Mr McIvor dropped out of politics after the power-sharing executive set up following the Sunningdale Conference foundered in the mid-1970s.

After studying law at Queen’s University Belfast he served as a barrister before entering the old unionist dominated Parliament at Stormont as a Belfast MP.

He was Minister of Community Relations when the parliament was closed and direct rule imposed in 1972.

He was one of the unionist team at the 1973 Sunningdale conference which established the power-sharing administration at Stormont at the start of the next year.

He took the role of Education Minister and announced a scheme for shared schools for Catholic and Protestant children, but it was never implemented because of the collapse of the Executive.

He later became active in the drive for integrated education and in 1981 he became the first chairman of Lagan College, Northern Ireland’s first integrated school.

When devolution returned after the Good Friday Agreement he wrote to Sinn Féin’s Martin McGuinness, Education Minister in the new Executive, wishing him well and inviting him to visit the college.

After leaving politics Mr McIvor sat as a Resident Magistrate for many years. In 1987 four unionist MPs tabled a motion in the House of Commons calling for his removal from the bench on the grounds that he had shown bias against unionists and Orangemen in a case in Co Antrim.

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