Wishing David Ford a happy retirement

David Ford is enjoying the first day of his retirement today. He’s been such a wise, sensible voice in Northern Ireland politics for over quarter of a century.

He explains to the BBC why he’s decided that now is the right time to step down from the Assembly.

The Alliance Party website has his full statement:

It has been an enormous privilege to represent the people of South Antrim and the wider Alliance Party for the entire life of the Assembly so far. However, I feel now is the right time for me to step down. This will enable my successor to settle in and work in the constituency during the ongoing impasse, then play a full role in the Assembly after it is restored,” he said.

“On June 30, I complete 20 years as a member of the Assembly, making it a fitting day to retire, which I do as ‘father of the house’. Until that point, I will continue to work for my constituents and on anything else the party requires me to do. I will of course remain an active party member and support it in any way I can to continue its trend of growing.

“I am privileged to have been elected by my neighbours in South Antrim on six occasions, and take pride in the legacy I leave in the constituency, in Alliance and in the Department of Justice. I know Alliance remains the best vehicle for establishing a united community for everyone in Northern Ireland. I leave the party team in safe hands with the next generation, under the leadership of Naomi Long and Stephen Farry.”

David was first elected as a councillor in 1993 and was then elected to the Assembly in 1998 – exactly 20 years yesterday. He led the Alliance party for 15 years from 2001 and was Northern Ireland’s Justice Mnister from 2010-2016. The BBC has a video showing the key milestones of his career here. 

He’s stood up for LGBT equality, and was removed as an elder of his Church after 30 years for his support for same sex marriage.

He also introduced a bill that would allow abortion in Northern Ireland in the case of fatal foetal abnormality.

Thanks so much to David for all his wise, liberal leadership over the years and we wish him all the best for his retirement.



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This entry was posted in Op-eds.


  • Well done David. You’ve been a consistent and strong Liberal voice, heard not just in NI but here on the mainland as well at times. You deserve your retirement, but I hope (and expect) that we’ll still hear from you from time to time.
    David’s replacement, John Blair, will be the first openly gay MLA. Yet another Liberal contribution to the march of LGBTQ progress.

  • Denis Loretto 2nd Jul '18 - 10:27am

    As a founder member of the Alliance Party 48 years ago, now living in London, I add my thanks and best wishes to David. His contribution to the party and to Northern Ireland has been immense, including of course 6 years as Minister of Justice, a post which the DUP and Sinn Fein had to acknowledge it would have been unthinkable for one of their members to fill.
    Although the people of Northern Ireland to their credit supported the Good Friday Agreement, encapsulating as it did the longstanding Alliance Party policies of power-sharing at Stormont and rapport with the Irish Republic, the alienation, fear and mistrust ingrained during 30 years of horrific violence and conflict still mean that elections result in majorities for parties drawn from one or other side of the traditional divide. Nevertheless the Alliance Party continue to achieve sufficient support to maintain an influential voice in the province for their admirable values and their unique quality of protestant and catholic membership working together in the same organisation.
    David Ford has earned his place in history and under Naomi Long’s energetic leadership it is imperative that the Alliance Party fights on not just to survive but to progress ultimately to the elimination of sectarian labels as the main basis of voting choice in Northern Ireland.

  • Richard Underhill 8th Mar '19 - 11:46am

    The Alliance Party of Northern Ireland is a friendly party, operating under STV for local elections, euro-elections and elections to the devolved Assembly.
    If they did not exist it would be necessary to invent them.
    An important policy is education. In the context of Northern Ireland schooling is possible, albeit slow, way of breaking down the traditional divides. Independent schools are good schools, in demand from parents, so they should be expanded.
    Operating under FPTP for Westminster elections, electing one MP in 2010, who has become their leader.
    Those who claim to believe in some form of democracy should act to enable the elected Northern Ireland to meet. The two largest parties are the ‘Democratic’ Unionist Party and Sinn Fein.
    If the Prime Minister allows the Northern Ireland Secretary to continue in her job she should minimise delay and encourage vigour in restarting the democratically elected devolved Assembly, which is derived from the Good Friday Agreement and two referendums, one in the North of Ireland, the other in the Republic of Ireland.
    Failure to do so would look like hypocrisy and undermine democratic values north and south at this sensitive time.

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