John Taylor, Baron Kilclooney

John David Taylor, Baron Kilclooney, PC (NI) (born 24 December 1937) is a Crossbench life peer[1] from Northern Ireland, who has sat in the House of Lords since 2001. He previously served as an Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) Member of Parliament (MP) for Strangford from 1983 to 2001. He was deputy leader of the UUP from 1995 to 2001, and a Member of the Northern Ireland Assembly (MLA) from 1998 to 2007, where he represented the Assembly Seat of Strangford.

The Lord Kilclooney

Member of the House of Lords
Lord Temporal
Assumed office
17 July 2001
Life peerage
Member of the Legislative Assembly
for Strangford
In office
25 June 1998  7 March 2007
Preceded byConstituency created
Succeeded byMichelle McIlveen
Member of Parliament
for Strangford
In office
9 June 1983  14 May 2001
Preceded byConstituency created
Succeeded byIris Robinson
Member of the European Parliament
for Northern Ireland
In office
10 June 1979  15 June 1989
Preceded byConstituency created
Succeeded byJim Nicholson
Member of the Northern Ireland Parliament
for South Tyrone
In office
25 November 1965  30 March 1972
Preceded byWilliam Frederick McCoy
Succeeded byConstituency abolished
Personal details
Born (1937-12-24) 24 December 1937 (age 83)
Armagh, Northern Ireland
Political partyCrossbench
(formerly) Ulster Unionist Party
Spouse(s)Mary Todd
Alma materQueen's University Belfast

Prior to his election as an MP, Taylor was a Member of the European Parliament (MEP) for Northern Ireland, from 1979 to 1989.

He was also a Member of the Northern Ireland Parliament, representing the seat of South Tyrone from 1965 to 1972.

Early life

Taylor was born in Armagh in Northern Ireland.[2] He was educated at The Royal School, Armagh, and Queen's University Belfast, where he graduated with a Bachelor of Science (BSc) degree.[3]

Political career

Taylor's political career began as MP for South Tyrone in the Northern Irish House of Commons between 1970 and 1972, and he served in the Government of Northern Ireland as Minister of State at the Ministry of Home Affairs.[4]

On 25 February 1972, he survived an assassination attempt in Armagh by the Official Irish Republican Army.[5] Two men, including Joe McCann (who was himself shot dead some months afterwards whilst evading arrest), raked his car with bullets, hitting Taylor five times in the neck and head.[6] Taylor survived, but needed extensive reconstructive surgery on his jaw. Despite this, Taylor soon re-entered politics. He represented Fermanagh & South Tyrone in the short-lived Northern Ireland Assembly elected in 1973 and dissolved in 1974, following the collapse of the power-sharing Executive.[7]

He became a Member of the European Parliament for Northern Ireland in 1979, remaining an MEP until 1989.[8] On 20 January 1987,[9] Taylor left the European Democrats, with whom the Conservatives sat, to join the controversial European Right group.[10]

He was elected to the Northern Ireland Assembly in 1982 for North Down.[11] He then became MP for Strangford in 1983, until 2001.[12] He was a member of Castlereagh Borough Council from 1993–1997. In February 1989 he joined the "hard right" Conservative Monday Club and appears on the list of their speakers at the Annual Conference of its Young Members' Group at the United Oxford & Cambridge Club in Pall Mall, on 18 November 1989, when he spoke on 'The Union and Northern Ireland'.[citation needed]

Following the 2001 general election, on 17 July he was created a life peer as Baron Kilclooney, of Armagh in the County of Armagh,[13] sitting as a crossbencher. He sat on the Northern Ireland Policing Board from 4 November 2001 until 31 March 2006.[14] He continued to sit as a member of the Northern Ireland Assembly until his retirement prior to the elections in March 2007. He remains the only active politician to have participated in all levels of government in Northern Ireland, from local council, the Parliament of Northern Ireland, Westminster, Europe, all previous failed Assemblies and Conventions and the current incarnation of the Assembly.[citation needed]

In January 2012, Taylor wrote to The Scotsman newspaper asserting that Scotland should be subject to partition, depending on the outcome of the Scottish independence referendum.[15]

Personal life

Taylor is a member of the Farmers Club in London, and the County Club in Armagh City.

He owns Alpha Newspapers, which operates local newspaper titles in Northern Ireland and the Republic.[16]

He married Mary Todd in 1970, and has six children.

Racism allegations

In 1988, Taylor replied to a letter from Gearoid Ó Muilleoir, deputy president of the Student’s Union in Queen's University Belfast, relating to grants for students in Northern Ireland. Taylor's letter said, "Since your surname is clearly unpronounceable I have, rightly or wrongly, concluded that you are Irish and not British. I therefore suggest that you, and those whom you represent, apply for any necessary grants to the Dublin Government."[17]

In September 1993 Taylor described Loyalist paramilitary victims (overwhelmingly Catholic civilians) "generally" as "members of organisations which support the IRA".[18] Earlier that same month he also said the increasing fear amongst Catholics might be helpful because they were beginning to "appreciate" the fear in the Protestant community.[19]

Taylor later repudiated being Irish in a debate in Dublin: "We in Northern Ireland are not Irish. We do not jig at crossroads, speak Gaelic, play GAA etc… It is an insult for Dubliners to refer to us as being Irish."[20]

In 1997, British Prime Minister Tony Blair issued a statement on the Irish Famine, in which he said "those governed in London at the time failed their people through standing by while a crop failure turned into a massive human tragedy. We must not forget such a dreadful event." Taylor said, "I suppose it is a nice gesture by the prime minister but he will find it will not satisfy and there will be yet more demands. The Irish mentality is one of victimhood - they ask for one apology one week and another on a different subject the next."[21]

In November 2017, Taylor attracted criticism for describing the then-Taoiseach of the Republic of Ireland Leo Varadkar as "the Indian".[22] Taylor withdrew his comment, stating that he had forgotten how to spell the Irish head of government's name, despite spelling it in an earlier tweet.[22] Despite this contrition, in May 2018 Taylor once again referred to Varadkar as a "typical Indian" following Varadkar's visit to Northern Ireland.[23] This time Taylor stood by his comment, stating that the Taoiseach had "upset Unionists" with his visit, but reiterated that he was not a racist.[23]

On 9 November 2020, Kilclooney made a series of statements on Twitter about American Vice-President-Elect Kamala Harris, saying, "What happens if Biden moves on and the Indian becomes President. Who then becomes Vice President?"[24][25] When challenged, he claimed that he did not know the name of the vice-president elect, by way of explaining his term of reference. He said, "I had never heard of her nor knew her name is Harris. India is quite rightly celebrating that an Indian, who has USA citizenship, has been appointed Vice President elect".[26]

Kilclooney had previously been labelled an "old racist dinosaur" by Piers Morgan, for comments he had made in 2017 about cricketer Moeen Ali. Kilclooney had said on Twitter that, "Times have changed! The England team now needs non English people in order to win Test Games". When it was pointed out that Ali was born in Britain, Kilclooney responded, "Moeen Ali is proud to be British but racially he is not English. There is a difference between being English and being British!!", adding that, "A Chinese born in England is Chinese and not English!".[27]


Coat of arms of John Taylor, Baron Kilclooney
A Coronet of a Baron
A Tailor Bird Or grasping a Bush eradicated Azure enflamed Or
Azure issuing in base three Representations of the Scrabo Tower Argent with windows framed and Pinnacles Or each ensigned by a Viking Helm Argent horned Or
On either side an Irish Elk Gules unguled and attired Or resting the exterior forehoof upon an Ulster Gatepost Argent
A While Fer Wark An A While Fer Spoartin

See also


  1. "Kilclooney, Baron, (John David Taylor) (born 24 Dec. 1937)". WHO'S WHO & WHO WAS WHO. doi:10.1093/ww/9780199540884.013.u37125. Retrieved 4 May 2021.
  2. Gordon Gillespie (24 September 2009). The A to Z of the Northern Ireland Conflict. Scarecrow Press. pp. 243–. ISBN 978-0-8108-7045-1 via Google Books.
  3. "Biographies of Prominent People - 'T'". Conflict Archive on the Internet. University of Ulster. Retrieved 9 November 2020.
  4. "Biography of John Kilclooney". UK Parliament. Retrieved 17 July 2018.
  5. "CAIN: Chronology of the conflict 1972". Conflict Archive on the Internet. University of Ulster. Retrieved 3 August 2018.
  6. Fleming, Joanne (1 August 2016). "It's outrageous ex-soldier may be prosecuted over shooting of IRA man who tried to kill me, declares peer". Belfast Telegraph. Retrieved 2 August 2018.
  7. Details of assassination attempt, Conflict Archive on the Internet; accessed 24 October 2015.
  8. Sharrock, David (30 January 2001). "Unionists' John Taylor to stand down as an MP". The Telegraph. Retrieved 3 August 2018.
  9. "A Chronology of the Conflict – 1987". Conflict Archive on the Internet. University of Ulster. 1 June 2009. Retrieved 7 March 2010.
  10. "John Taylor: Profile". BBC News. 30 January 2001.
  11. Gordon Gillespie (16 March 2017). Historical Dictionary of the Northern Ireland Conflict. Rowman & Littlefield Publishers. pp. 290–. ISBN 978-1-4422-6305-5 via Google Books.
  12. "Northern Ireland Elections". ARK. Retrieved 2 August 2018.
  13. "No. 56281". The London Gazette. 20 July 2001. p. 8601.
  14. "Previous Policing Board Members". NI Policing Board. 14 October 2015. Retrieved 3 August 2018.
  15. "Partition could come north of Border". The Scotsman. JPI Media. 13 January 2012. Retrieved 13 January 2012.
  16. Neill, Maurice (4 December 2003). "Taylor buys up four newspapers in Republic". Belfast Telegraph. Retrieved 3 August 2018.
  17. "Queen's student union archives shine light on the past –". BBC News. 15 September 2019. Retrieved 11 November 2020.
  18. Fortnight Magazine, Issue 322, p. 32-33. Fortnight Publications, 1993.
  19. Fortnight Magazine, Issue 321, p. 32-33. Fortnight Publications, 1993.
  20. Conor O'Clery, Ireland in Quotes: A History of the 20th Century (Dublin: The O'Brien Press, 1999), p. 219
  21. Harnden, Toby (2 June 1997). "Apology on Potato Famine". The Edmonton Journal. Edmonton.
  22. "Lord Kilclooney withdraws 'Indian' Leo Varadkar tweet". BBC News. 23 November 2017. Retrieved 10 November 2020.
  23. "I thought Lord Kilclooney 'typical Indian' tweet was parody – Leo Varadkar". Belfast Telegraph. Independent News & Media. 1 May 2018. Retrieved 10 November 2020.
  24. "Lord Kilclooney accused of racism over tweet about Kamala Harris". Powys County Times. Press Association. 9 November 2020.
  25. Sleigh, Sophia (9 November 2020). "Lord Kilclooney denies being racist after calling Kamala Harris 'the Indian'". Evening Standard. ESI Media. Retrieved 9 November 2020.
  26. Kilcooney, John (9 November 2020). "I had never heard of her nor knew her name is Harris. India is quite rightly celebrating that an Indian, who has USA citizenship, has been appointed Vice President elect". @KilclooneyJohn. Retrieved 9 November 2020 via Twitter.
  27. Bell, Jonathan (1 January 2018). "Piers Morgan calls Kilclooney an 'old racist dinosaur' after tweet about cricketer Moeen Ali". Belfast Telegraph. Independent News & Media.