Northern Ireland news

Tributes paid to Norman Houston a `wonderful ambassador for Northern Ireland'

Tributes have been paid to Norman Houston, who has passed away. Mr Houston was Northern Ireland’s former representative in Washington DC
Marie Louise McConville

Northern Ireland’s former representative in Washington DC has been described as "a tireless advocate" for the north, following his death yesterday.

Norman Houston, who was originally from Larne, Co Antrim, died yesterday at the age of 62.

The father-of-two, who lived in Belfast, had spent 44 years in the civil service before retiring at the rank of Assistant Secretary in October 2019.

He was the longest serving director of the Northern Ireland Bureau in Washington DC, holding the position from October 2007 until his retirement.

He had previously served as deputy director from 1998 to 2002.

In total, he spent 16 years working as a diplomat in Washington DC and during this time had experience working with the Clinton, Bush, Obama and Trump administrations.

Mr Houston was said to have been instrumental in arranging the first visit to the Oval Office by the then First Minister, Ian Paisley and the then Deputy First Minster, Martin McGuinness in December 2007.

In 2019 he was awarded an OBE in recognition of his work in promoting the north overseas.

In recent times, Mr Houston had worked as a director of Houston Solutions.

The US Consulate in Belfast last night it was "saddened" to learn of Mr Houston's death.

The Consulate said Mr Houston had "gained the respect of countless Americans at the highest levels of the White House, the Department of State and on Capitol Hill".

"As a tireless advocate for Northern Ireland, many of the mutually beneficial connections that we enjoy today are a direct legacy of Norman’s efforts.

"The team at the US Consulate and his legions of friends in the United States remember Norman’s dedication as a public servant an also for the humour, integrity and passion that surrounded him in everything he did. Our thoughts are with his family, his son Connor, and daughter Chloe, at this difficult time".

The NI Bureau said it was "heartbroken" by the news of the death of Mr Houston who it described as a "dear friend and wonderful ambassador for Northern Ireland".

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