Death of former UUP Stormont minister Sam Foster

Tributes paid by unionist and nationalist politicians

The late Sam Foster: was a “huge figure” in unionism. Photograph: Alan Betson

The late Sam Foster: was a “huge figure” in unionism. Photograph: Alan Betson

Wed, Aug 20, 2014, 01:00

The death has occurred of Sam Foster, who served as minister for the environment

in the first Northern executive, formed in 1999 a year after the signing of the powersharing Belfast Agreement. He died yesterday aged 82.

Mr Foster, an Ulster Unionist Party member, represented Fermanagh and South Tyrone in the Northern Assembly. A pro-agreement unionist, he was appointed by former UUP first minister David Trimble.

Mr Foster, an uncle of DUP Minister for Enterprise Arlene Foster was also a former chairman of Fermanagh District Council. He was in the Ulster Special Constabulary and a major in the Ulster Defence Regiment. He was a senior Orangeman.

Mr Foster is survived by his widow, Dorothy, daughter, Helen, sons, Mervyn and David, and grandchildren.

“It is well-known that Sammy and I didn’t always agree on the direction of unionism post the Belfast Agreement, but we did, especially in later years, realise the importance of family,” Ms Foster said.

UUP leader Mike Nesbitt said Mr Foster was a “huge figure” in unionism.

Sinn Féin Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness said: “Despite our obvious political differences, I found him to be courteous, decent and conscientious at all times.” Alliance leader David Ford said Mr Foster was a “true gentleman” who was committed to the restoration of devolution.