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Sir Reg Empey 
MLA


Incumbent
Assumed office 
8 May 2007
Preceded by Carmel Hanna

In office
1 July – 6 November 2001
Deputy Seamus Mallon
Preceded by David Trimble
Succeeded by David Trimble

In office
29 November 1999 – 14 October 2002
Preceded by New office
Succeeded by Nigel Dodds

Incumbent
Assumed office 
1998
Preceded by New Assembly
Constituency Belfast East

Born 26 October 1947 (1947-10-26) (age 62)
Belfast, County Antrim, Northern Ireland
Nationality British
Political party Ulster Unionist Party

Sir Reginald Norman Morgan Empey MLA (born 26 October 1947) is Leader of the Ulster Unionist Party and a Member of the Northern Ireland Assembly for East Belfast. Twice Lord Mayor of Belfast, he was elected the 13th leader of Ulster Unionist Party on 24 June 2005, succeeding former First Minister of Northern Ireland, David Trimble.

Contents

Biography

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Early life

Empey attended Hillcrest Preparatory School, Belfast, and The Royal School, Armagh before graduating with an economics degree from Queen's University of Belfast. After that he built up a business career.

He first entered politics in the late 1960s when he joined the Ulster Young Unionist Council. Along with many other Unionists he left in protest at reforms and became an early member of the Vanguard Progressive Unionist Party, serving as the party chairman in 1975 and being elected to the Constitutional Convention in the same year. When Vanguard split during the Northern Ireland Constitutional Convention, Empey joined the breakaway group which formed the United Ulster Unionist Party, serving as the party's Deputy Leader from 1977 until its dissolution in 1984.

Ulster Unionist Party

Empey then rejoined the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) and was elected to Belfast City Council, serving as Lord Mayor in 1989-1990 and 1993-1994. During this period he built up a political base in East Belfast, though in 1995 he sought to become the Ulster Unionists' candidate for the North Down by-election. However, he was not selected by local party members, losing out to Alan McFarland.

Empey became increasingly prominent in the UUP and was often a member of its negotiating teams throughout the 1990s, the decade when he first became a party officer, and he became a key ally of David Trimble, who became leader of the party in 1995. Trimble had been deputy leader of Vanguard in the years after the divide. In 1996 Empey was elected to the Northern Ireland Forum for East Belfast and in 1998 and 2003 he was elected to the Northern Ireland Assembly.

Reg Empey and John White at the Ulster Unionist Party Executive Committee during the Leader's address. In the foreground is Roy Beggs.

Executive Career

When the Northern Ireland Executive was formed in 1999, Empey became Minister of Enterprise, Trade and Investment, holding the portfolio throughout the entirety of the Executive's existence. In June 2001 Trimble temporarily resigned as First Minister of Northern Ireland and appointed Empey to fulfil the functions of the office for the interim period until disagreements between the parties had been restored. Empey undertook the role until November of that year. In 1999, Reg Empey was knighted by the Queen.

He is currently responsible for the Department for Employment and Learning.

Empey called for the Treasury to compensate investors in the collapsed mutual society Presbyterian Mutual which the Treasury rejected.[1]

Leadership

In 2005 Trimble resigned as leader following a disastrous showing by the UUP in the 2005 general election. Empey stood in the contest to succeed him and on 24 June 2005, was elected. In a reversal of fortunes, his main opponent was Alan McFarland, to whom he had lost the by-election nomination ten years earlier.

Personal life

Empey is a member of the Orange Order, his lodge being Eldon LOL 7, in the Belfast district.

Empey is married to Stella, who worked for many years in the charitable sector. They have two children.

Election results

Empey first stood for election in the 1975 elections to the Constitutional Convention, standing as a candidate in Belfast East for the Vanguard Unionist Progressive Party he received 4657 first preference votes he was elected. In the 1977 Local Government elections he received 981 first preference votes and was unsuccessful (he did not run in the 1981 Local Government Elections), and the 1982 Assembly election he received 503 first preference votes. In the 1985 Local Government election, he was elected to Belfast City Council with 1117 first preference votes, this was reduced in the subsequent 1989 local government election to 864. In 1993 he was elected having attained 1295 first preference votes, and was elected again in 1997 with 2309 first preference votes. However this still left him behind his main DUP rival in the Pottenger Council Ward, Sammy Wilson.[2]

Empey has stood in every election since 1998 to the devolved Northern Ireland Assembly. He first got elected to the Assembly in 1998 polling 12.8% of the popular vote; in 2003 20.9% of the popular vote; and in 2007 14% of the popular vote. Empey also stood against DUP MP for East Belfast Peter Robinson in the 2005 Westminster election polling 30.1% of the vote but failing to get elected.[3]

Empey has never topped the poll in any election to any level of Government.[4]

References

External links

Northern Ireland Assembly
New creation MLA for Belfast East
1998 – present
Incumbent
Assembly seats
New creation Member of the Constitutional Convention for Belfast East
1975 – 1976
Position abolished
Party political offices
New creation Deputy Leader of the United Ulster Unionist Party
1977 – 1984
Position abolished
First Deputy Leader of the Ulster Unionist Party in the Northern Ireland Assembly
2003 – 2005
Succeeded by
Danny Kennedy
Preceded by
David Trimble
Leader of the Ulster Unionist Party
2005 – present
Incumbent
Civic offices
Preceded by
Nigel Dodds
Lord Mayor of Belfast
1989 – 1990
Succeeded by
Fred Cobain
Preceded by
Herbert Ditty
Lord Mayor of Belfast
1993 – 1994
Succeeded by
Hugh Smyth
Political offices
Preceded by
New creation
Minister of Enterprise, Trade and Investment
1999-2000
Succeeded by
Office suspended
Preceded by
Office suspended
Minister of Enterprise, Trade and Investment
2000-2002
Succeeded by
Office suspended
Preceded by
David Trimble
Acting First Minister of Northern Ireland
2001
Succeeded by
David Trimble
Preceded by
Office suspended
Minister for Employment and Learning
2007 - present
Succeeded by
Incumbent

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