Northern Ireland

'Forensic in his analysis' - tributes paid to economist John Simpson following his death

Economist John Simpson died on Monday following a short illness
Economist John Simpson died on Monday following a short illness

VETERAN economist John Simpson will be remembered for his "skill and insight" following his death at the age of 90.

The former Queen's University economics lecturer was the Belfast Telegraph's longest serving columnist and became the "go-to" economist for media commentary, with his expertise described as "second to none" by his editor-in-chief.

He was working for the newspaper and its sister publication, Ulster Business, until shortly before a short illness.

Mr Simpson died on Monday at Antrim Area Hospital, and is survived by his two daughters, Joanne and Susan, and grandsons Ryan and Connor.

Following news of his passing, tributes were paid praising his knowledge and contribution to economics.

Belfast Telegraph and Sunday Life editor-in-chief Eoin Brannigan, said: "His knowledge of business, local and international, was second to none, and the respect in which he was held was clear."

Speaking of working alongside Mr Simpson early in his career, former BBC NI business editor James Kerr said: "Whatever it was I learned about business and economics in those days, most of it came from John. He was genuinely a well of knowledge, and managed to combine that learning with the ability to impart it in a clear, concise and comprehensible way, to the many of us who knew less than him."

Ulster Bank chief economist Richard Ramsey praised Mr Simpson's straightforward insight, saying he "told people what they needed to know not what they wanted to hear".

"He will be sorely missed by both economists and non-economists," Mr Ramsey added.

Among Queen's University colleagues to pay tribute were senior lecturer and economist Graham Brownlow.

"He wrote some very fine academic papers about public finance, unemployment and a range of other topics before becoming the 'go to' media commentator on the Northern Ireland economy," he said.

Former head of the Northern Ireland Civil Service, David Sterling, said Mr Simpson was "forensic in his analysis", adding: "He was one of the few people who read departmental accounts - and never to be taken lightly at interview. He’ll be sorely missed."

Alliance MLA Stewart Dickson said of Mr Simpson in a social media post: "I knew him both as family friend of my parents and in a professional capacity as a Labour Relations Agency Arbitrator, his skill and insight will be missed."