I was sorry to hear of the passing of David Bleakley at the age of 92. David served the people of Northern Ireland for many years as an MP in the old Stormont parliament, the 1973 Assembly, the NI convention (1975) and as Minister of Community Relations 1971.
I have known David for almost 50 years and first canvassed for him in the Victoria election to Stormont in 1965 when he lost his seat to Roy Bradford.
I got to know him better when he came to Bangor (80s). He signed my nomination papers for my various Assembly campaigns.We had many long chats about the present political situation, our times in the NILP, his peace work and friendship with CS Lewis.
I particularly value a copy of his book Peace in Ireland which he presented me with. In it he wrote” to Brian Wilson fellow traveller and a good companion on The Great Crusade With …Regards David” He campaigned against sectarianism was totally committed to Peace (Community Relations Minister) and to his Christian values He was an inspiration to many and dearly loved by the people of East Belfast.
I recall during one of my Assembly campaigns he canvassed with me in Bangor market. I amazed to see dozens of shoppers from Castlereagh/East Belfast thanking him for something he had done for them as MP over 30 years before. His death is a sad loss for the people of NI.