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Seamus Mallon

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Seamus Mallon (born 17 August 1936) is Northern Ireland politician and former Deputy Leader of the nationalist Social Democratic and Labour Party. He served as the first Northern Ireland Deputy First Minister, from 1999 to 2001.

Image:smallon.jpg
Seamus Mallon, MP
first Deputy First Minister
of Northern Ireland (1999-2001).
Deputy Leader of the SDLP (1979-2001).

Seamus Mallon was born in County Armagh. He was educated at the Abbey Grammar School in Newry. As a career he chose teaching, becoming headmaster of St. James's Primary School in Markethill. During the sixties he was involved in the civil rights movement, especially in his native Armagh. In 1979, when John Hume went from being deputy leader of the SDLP (under Gerry Fitt) to leader Mallon became deputy leader. He was elected to the first power-sharing Assembly in 1975, and to the Northern Ireland Convention. Between May and December 1982 Mallon was appointed by the then Taoiseach of the Republic of Ireland, Charles J. Haughey to the Republic's upper house, Seanad Éireann. Because of this he was excluded from the then Northern Ireland Assembly, set up as part of then Secretary of State for Northern Ireland James Prior's rolling devolution.1

In 1986 he was elected to Westminster as an MP for Newry & Armagh, a seat he has held since. He won the seat in a by-election to replace Jim Nicholson, who had resigned his seat in protest at the Anglo-Irish Agreement, along with all the other Northern Ireland unionist MPs. Nicholson was the only MP to fail to be re-elected.

Mallon has remained a strong opponent of IRA violence. He has also been in favour of police reform in Northern Ireland. In 1994 he became a member of the Forum for Peace and Reconciliation. Following the Good Friday Agreement in 1998 Mallon became Deputy First Minister in the Assembly, serving alongside Ulster Unionist leader David Trimble. In 2001 Seamus Mallon retired, along with John Hume, from the leadership of the SDLP. Mark Durkan replaced both; Hume as leader and Mallon as Deputy First Minister, when the Northern Ireland Executive was re-established following a suspension.

Mallon did not contest his seat in the Stormont Assembly in the 2003 elections, and stood down at the 2005 Westminster election. His seat was taken by Conor Murphy of Sinn Fein.

Footnote

1 Under then British legislation no elected member of a British parliament or regional assembly could serve in a parliament outside the United Kingdom without losing their British seat. That restriction has now been removed.


Preceded by:
Deputy First Minister of Northern Ireland
1999–2001
Succeeded by:
Mark Durkan

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