Burnside in tribute to ‘old-fashioned gentleman’ Gorman

Former Ulster Unionist Party MLA Sir John Gorman, who died last month at the age of 91.

Former Ulster Unionist Party MLA Sir John Gorman, who died last month at the age of 91.

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Former Ulster Unionist MP David Burnside last night paid tribute to the late Sir John Gorman as “an old-fashioned gentleman”.

Mr Burnside said he first met Sir John when he was a child at primary school in Ballymoney, Co Antrim.

He said: “As a boy I knew him as a detective inspector in the RUC in Ballymoney and our paths continued to cross first at British Airways and later in unionist politics.

“He served his country well and honourably in war and peace.

“I remember David Trimble saying to me we need some Catholic unionists who will declare for the Union, and I immediately suggested John who willingly went forward to be elected to the Assembly.

“John had a wonderful career – exciting and varied.

“Northern Ireland needs many more pro-Union Catholics like John Gorman.”

Mr Burnside said Sir John was “well-liked” in Stormont “where the atmosphere of manners is not the normal behaviour”.

Sir John was born on February 1, 1923, in Omagh, and died on Monday, aged 91.

A lieutenant in the 2nd battalion of the Irish Guards in the Second World War, he was awarded the Military Cross and promoted to captain.

After the war, from 1946 to 1964, he served with the RUC and rose to district inspector.

He joined the British Overseas Aircraft Corporation as chief of security and subsequently regional manager.

In 1979 he returned to Northern Ireland as chief executive of the Housing Executive, until 1986.

Among other achievements, he joined the Assembly as a UUP MLA from 1998 to 2002. The father-of-four was knighted in the Birthday Honours in 1998 and awarded the Croix de Guerre for actions during WW2 in 2007.