Northern Ireland

Victor Blease, long time head of the Housing Executive, has passed away.

Victor Blease led the NIHE for nearly 14 years, headquarters pictured
Victor Blease led the NIHE for nearly 14 years, headquarters pictured

Tributes have been paid following the passing of Victor Blease, the one-time head of the Housing Executive. He was 81.

A school teacher by profession, William Victor Blease joined the recently established NIHE in 1972, originally as information officer, later as director of housing.

Mr Blease, the son of Labour activist and long-time peer Billy Blease, was appointed chief executive of the NIHE in 1985, leading the organisation until his retirement in 1998.

Current NIHE Chief Executive Grainia Long described Mr Blease as a "driving force for social change" during his time with the organisation.

Grainia Long, NIHE Chief Executive
Grainia Long, NIHE Chief Executive

“Victor was a driving force for social change throughout his time at the Housing Executive, overseeing the large scale redevelopment of many neighbourhoods and major investments in our own homes and private sector housing," Ms Long said.

“During a very difficult chapter in Northern Ireland’s history, he also introduced many ground-breaking initiatives to enhance community engagement and participation. 

“This created a legacy for community engagement and cohesion that underpins the work we do today.

“A strong advocate for the professional development of staff, Victor always recognised the importance of continuous growth and learning to support colleagues in enhancing their knowledge and skills. 

“My thoughts are with his family at this very sad time.”

As a young man, Mr Blease stood unsuccessfully as a NI Labour Party candidate in the St Anne's ward in Belfast in 1965.

Mr Blease, who died peacefully in hospital, was the "dearly loved husband of Rosemary, loving father Stephen, Nicholas, Charlotte and Catherine, devoted grandfather of Holly and James, dear brother of Maurice, Gillian and Paul".

A service will be held at Kirkwoods Funeral Home on Kings Road in Belfast on Thursday. It is asked donations in lieu be sent to the Alzheimer's Society, care of Kirkwoods.