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A name from the past October 10, 2016

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.

A characteristically measured piece by Alex Salmond in the IT recently on Brexit. But there was in the course of it mention of the following:

Speaking directly after me was Mr James Kilfidder, the then member for North Down and the sole member of the Ulster Popular Unionist Party – a completely united one man parliamentary party. As is the tradition in the House of Commons, Jim described my speech in the most glowing terms – “A young Scottish lion was loose in the Commons tonight,” he proclaimed. “The prime minister had better heed the new voice of Scotland. ”
So impressed was I by this unexpected praise that afterwards I took him for a drink and, pulling his leg, told him that I was going to use a quote from Parnell, but dropped it when I saw he was about to speak. “Ah,” said Jim. “You needn’t have worried. I was educated at University College Dublin and anyway, Parnell was a good Protestant laid low by the machinations of the Catholic Church!”

Now I hadn’t thought about Kilfedder in ages, and I can’t find a photo online of him. I was a bit sceptical of his attending UCD, and according to wiki he didn’t, instead going to TCD. But he appears to have been an intriguing character – born in Leitrim, attending TCD and winding up a UUP and later UPUP (his own organisation really) MP. He was a proponent of devolution, hence the split with the then more integrationist UUP.

It appears – from various accounts – that he was gay but not out, and rather tragically:

On 20 March 1995, while travelling by train into London from Gatwick airport, Kilfedder died of a heart attack. This was the same day that the Belfast Telegraph carried a front page story saying that an Ulster MP had been targeted as one of twenty MPs invited by the LGBT rights organisation OutRage! in a letter to come out.[8]


1. Daniel Rayner O'Connor Lysaght - October 10, 2016

Jim Kilfedder was indeed a graduate of TCD, and Auditor of the College Historical Society (I think)1951-2. It is said, too, that he tried to set up a Fine Gael Cumann there. In ’64 he was elected to Westminster as Unionist MP for Belfast West, with help or hindrance (opinions are divided) from Ian Paisley and the Divis Street rioters. He thanked Paisley publicly for his help. At the next election, he was defeated by Gerry Fitt, becoming Unionism’s last MP for that constituency, and migrating to Down North, where he sat for 25 years from 1970. In general, he specialised in being the smiling face of unionist sectarianism, friendly personally, but unyielding politically.
There is a resemblance here to Karl Lueger. perennial Anti-semite candidate for Burgomaster of Vienna at the start of the last century, and personal friend of many Jews (When challenged, L declared ‘I say who the Jews are around here.’)
As to Kilfedder’s sexual orientation, I can only go by reputation, but while he was alive, he was said to be quite actively hetero. Of course, this may have been a cover, or he may have been bisexual, or the newspaper report may have got it wrong.


WorldbyStorm - October 10, 2016

Thanks a million for that. A very very useful overview of someone who seems utterly contradictory in so many respects.


2. Tomboktu - October 10, 2016

I suspect the OutRage! letter may have been intended for Jim Molyneaux.


WorldbyStorm - October 10, 2016

Genuinely? I had a lot of sympathy for OutRage! at the time but was also a bit conflicted by their approach.


Tomboktu - October 11, 2016

The whole outing thing, both by OutRage! and in the US was a problem.

Those who advocated it argued that it attacked hypocrisy, but because it attacked gay hypocrites, it was seen — including by many gay people — primarily as attacking homosexuality.


WorldbyStorm - October 11, 2016

Hence my confliction. In fairness given what the Tory govt had brought in – section 28 etc the sense of having to push back against that and other measures was very great I think for some.


3. Brian Hanley - October 10, 2016

Kilfedder may have told Salmond that he was educated at the ‘University of Dublin’ rather than ‘University College Dublin.’
Interesting that the Parnell commemorations are still ongoing. In the early 1900s most variants of advanced nationalism would have commemorated him- in 1914 the Irish Volunteers, National Volunteers and Citizen Army all took part in the Parnell event.


EWI - October 11, 2016

The IRB (through their front in the Wolfe Tone Commemoration Committee) too. From looking at reports of the recent event in Avondale, Parnell appears to have been revised to having nothing to do with the IRB, or they with him.


4. sonofstan - October 10, 2016

There’s very few of that class of unionist left isn’t there? They’re all awfully bourgeois these days


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