Oliver Napier

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Sir Oliver Napier (11 July 1935 – 2 July 2011) was the first leader of the Alliance Party of Northern Ireland. In 1974 he served as the first and only Legal Minister and head of the Office of Legal Reform in the Northern Ireland power-sharing executive set up by the Sunningdale Agreement.

Early life

Napier was educated at St. Malachy's College, Belfast and the Queen's University of Belfast before starting work as a solicitor.

Political career

Napier joined the Ulster Liberal Party, rising to become Vice President by 1969. That year, he led a group of four party members who joined the New Ulster Movement, accepting the post of joint Chairman of its political committee. The Liberal Party promptly expelled him, but, working with Bob Cooper, he used his position to establish a new political party, the Alliance Party of Northern Ireland, which sought to become a political force that could command support from across the divided communities of the province.Thomas G. Mitchell, Indispensable Traitors, pp.10-11; 34-35 This aimed to offer an alternative to what Napier described as the sectarianism of the Ulster Unionist Party.

He served as the party's joint leader from 1970 until 1972, then as its sole leader from 1973 to 1984.Thomas G. Mitchell, Indispensable Traitors, p.64 Under his leadership Alliance participated in successive assemblies that...
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