Northern Ireland news

Tributes after former DUP MLA Jimmy Spratt dies aged 69

Former DUP MLA Jimmy Spratt
Rebecca Black, PA

Tributes have been paid following the death of former DUP MLA Jimmy Spratt.

Mr Spratt (69) had previously served as a police officer and as chairman of the Police Federation for Northern Ireland.

First Minister and DUP leader Arlene Foster described Mr Spratt as a “dear friend and colleague”.

“On behalf of the party, I express my sympathies to Lynda and the Spratt family on the loss of a husband, father, grandfather and brother,” she said.

“I talked with Jimmy after his last consultation when the news was not good, and we recognised it may be one of our last conversations.

“Yet in the face of such news, Jimmy spoke so touchingly about the tough days ahead for his family rather than him. His focus was on Lynda and the children.”

Mrs Foster said Mr Spratt “dedicated much of his life to trying to move Northern Ireland forward”.

“Jimmy believed in peace-making. He believed in building a shared future so everyone who lived here could feel at home,” she said.

“He wanted to make devolution work. He recognised that to get there would involve heavy lifting and tough conversations, but he never shied away from the challenge.

“Indeed, even in our final conversation, Jimmy was unstinting in his support and encouragement to keep Northern Ireland moving in the right direction.

“The Spratt family will be in our prayers as they mourn his passing.”

Ulster Unionist Party chairman Danny Kennedy expressed his sympathies to Mr Spratt’s family.

“He was a dedicated public representative, having had a long and successful career in policing beforehand,” he said.

“I liked and respected him and offer my sincere sympathy to his wife, sons and family circle at this sad and difficult time.”

Mr Spratt was remembered by Doug Garrett, current chairman of the Northern Ireland Policing Board, at the start of its public meeting on Thursday.

PSNI Chief Constable Simon Byrne also expressed his condolences to Mr Spratts’ family at the start of his address to the board.

Mr Spratt chaired the Police Federation until his retirement from the police service in 2002.

A political career with the DUP followed, starting as a councillor with the former Castlereagh Borough Council, and later becoming MLA for South Belfast in 2007.

He stepped aside due to ill health in 2015.

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