Tributes paid after death of veteran DUP politician Jimmy Spratt

Countless tributes are being paid to veteran DUP politician Jimmy Spratt after his passing.

By Gemma Murray
Thursday, 4th March 2021, 3:01 pm

Mr Spratt who was 69-years-old has spoken publicly for many years about his diagnosis with bowel cancer.

He was elected to the Northern Ireland Assembly in 2007 to represent South Belfast.

But in 2015, he retired from elected politics at Stormont, citing health grounds.

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First Minister Arlene Foster said: “I am deeply saddened to learn of Jimmy’s passing.

“He was a dear friend and colleague.

“On behalf of the Party, I express my sympathies to Lynda and the Spratt family on the loss of a husband, father, grandfather and brother.

“I talked with Jimmy after his last consultation when the news was not good, and we recognised it may be one of our last conversations.

Former DUP MLA Jimmy Spratt

“Yet in the face of such news, Jimmy spoke so touchingly about the tough days ahead for his family rather than him. His focus was on Lynda and the children.

“Jimmy Spratt dedicated much of his life to trying to move Northern Ireland forward.

“After he retired from serving his country in the RUC which he joined in 1972 and latterly the PSNI when he served as Chairman of the Police Federation, he became a full-time public representative being elected to Castlereagh Council in 2005 and the Northern Ireland Assembly in 2007.

“Jimmy believed in peace making.

Jimmy Spratt

“He believed in building a shared future so everyone who lived here could feel at home.

“He wanted to make devolution work.

“He recognised that to get there would involve heavy lifting and tough conversations, but he never shied away from the challenge.

“Indeed, even in our final conversation Jimmy was unstinting in his support and encouragement to keep Northern Ireland moving in the right direction.

“The Spratt family will be in our prayers as they mourn his passing.”

A message from the Police Federation NI - where Mr Spratt was a former Chairman - said: “Deeply saddened this morning to learn of the passing of our former Chairman @SprattJimmy.

“Jimmy was Chair of @PoliceFedforNI between 2001-2002 and our thoughts and prayers are with Linda and his entire family circle.”

PSNI Chief Constable also paid tribute to Mr Spratt.

“My sincere condolences to the family of the late Jimmy Spratt RIP,” he said.

“Jimmy made a considerable and important contribution to policing in Northern Ireland as a Police Officer, MLA, Chair of

@PoliceFedforNI and member of @NIPolicingBoard.

In another message, Education Minister Peter Weir said: “Very sorry to hear of the passing of Jimmy Spratt.

“Jimmy gave great service to the people of Northern Ireland as a police officer and then a public rep.

“I worked alongside Jimmy in the Assembly, Police Board, NILGA and SEELB. Thoughts and prayers with Lynda and the family.”

And another message from the Policing Board said: “Our Chair has recorded condolences on the passing of former Board Member Jimmy Spratt. He was a political rep on the Board for 4 years & as a former officer a passionate voice on policing issues, particularly around officer welfare. Thoughts are with his family & friends.”

Former UUP MLA Danny Kennedy added: “Deeply sorry to learn of the passing of Jimmy Spratt. We worked well together on many issues at Stormont and I liked and respected him. He bore his illness with bravery and fortitude. I offer my sincere sympathy to his wife, sons and family circle at this sad time.”

Last year Mr Spratt issued a heartfelt plea to politicians to “take the political grand standing out of all your decisions, and do the right thing and listen to the expert advice”.

In a post on social media, the former politician and former veteran police officer who served throughout the Troubles said he had “thought long and hard about putting these thoughts on Facebook”.

He said he made his impassioned comments after “having spoken and been in the of company of senior medical people at the end of last week and since let me make the following observations,and as someone using the medical system currently at Belfast Cancer Centre”.

He wrote: “It is clear to see how much strain the system is under, although consultants continue to treat those of us currently in the system.

“The concerns of all in Cancer system indicate, folks not coming through, possibly frightened to present because of Covid”.

He added: “The other big issues are as I understand it are staff in hospitals having to isolate, or have caught Covid, that depletes staffing, meaning wards with to fewer staff.

“Wards in various hospitals having to close because of outbreaks of Covid, and we have already seen that across the province.

“Specialist staff being moved from crucial Cancer Surgery to Wards to deal with Seriously ill Covid patients.

“That reduces the morale of caring Clinical Staff and their teams, because they are simply unable to operate with a depleted staff.”

Mr Spratt added that he understands “the frustration of Business about the Economy, but we must listen to what our Clinical and Medical experts are saying”.

In a harsh wake-up call Mr Spratt said: “I think the general public are miles ahead of those who need to make decisions, they are voting with their feet less people out and about, more of the public doing the right thing.

“Space , Masks ,Washing hands.

“We need to listen to the experts at the Coal Face, because if you don’t you are playing Russian Roulette with precious lives.

“In saying this I am stepping back from my political view which I hold dear.

“And say to everyone who has decisions to make, you are losing the the confidence of the public in their tens of thousands as each hour passes, and that is every political party in N Ireland.

“Please take the political grand standing out of all your decisions, and do the right thing and listen to the expert advice.

“I sincerely hope reason will prevail, and all should remember that when we need that Crucial treatment, the NHS will be there and not let us down in our time of need.

“PLEASE PLEASE DO THE RIGHT THING MAKE THE DECISIONS YOU NEED TO, no more dithering you will have to live by those decisions in days ahead.

“Sincerely

Jimmy Spratt”

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