Shankill unionist Charles McCullough dies

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Charles McCullough, a leading Shankill Road Ulster Unionist and a former senator in the Northern Ireland Senate, has died after an illness. He was 91.

Charlie McCullough was born in the Brown Square area at the bottom of the Shankill Road, at Peter’s Hill, and he rose to become one of the most influential unionists in west Belfast.

During the Second World War, he served in the Royal Navy, located on submarines throughout the war, including on the Baltic convoys to Russia.

He was a man intensely proud of his area, which he often described as being at the “centre of the Empire”, and he held a strong social conscience, coupled with staunch unionist principles.

Mr McCullough entered politics with election to Belfast Corporation as an Ulster Unionist representative in 1958 and eventually became leader of the unionist group on the corporation.

He served on the former Northern Ireland Senate at Parliament Buildings at Stormont from 1969 until the prorogation of the assembly in March 1972 with the advert of Direct Rule.

He was also a justice of the peace.

Closely connected with the loyal orders on the Shankill, Mr McCullough was a member of Shankill LOL No 1069, McMath Memorial RBP No 391 and the Murray club of the Apprentice Boys of Derry. He was also chairman for many years of the management committee of West Belfast Orange hall on the Shankill Road.

He was also a lifelong supporter of both Linfield and Glasgow Rangers football clubs.

In a tribute, DUP MLA William Humphrey said Charlie McCullough was a person of conviction and directness.

“He was an exceptional man, dedicated to the defence of freedom and democracy, whether confronting the threat of Nazism or violent republicanism.

“Our society is the poorer for his passing, he was a great Ulsterman,” said Mr Humphrey.

BILLY KENNEDY