Michael Nesbitt, MLA (born 11 May 1957) is a British politician and former broadcaster who was the Leader of the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) from 2012 to 2017 and has been a Member of the Northern Ireland Assembly (MLA) for Strangford since 2011.
|Leader of the Ulster Unionist Party|
31 March 2012 – 8 April 2017
|Preceded by||Tom Elliott|
|Succeeded by||Robin Swann|
|Member of the Legislative Assembly |
|Assumed office |
5 May 2011
|Preceded by||Simpson Gibson|
|Born||11 May 1957|
Belfast, Northern Ireland
|Political party||Ulster Unionist Party|
|Spouse(s)||Lynda Bryans (m.1992-2020) separated|
|Alma mater||Jesus College, Cambridge |
Queen's University, Belfast
|Known for||Television Presenter/Leader of the UUP|
Following the 2017 Northern Ireland Assembly election, Nesbitt announced his intention to step down as party leader, which he did on 8 April 2017.
Nesbitt worked as a sports reporter at BBC Northern Ireland and progressed to presenting Good Morning Ulster on BBC Radio Ulster from 1986 to 1990. Nesbitt joined UTV as a presenter and reporter in 1992, being joined by his wife Lynda Bryans to co-present evening news programme UTV Live in 1996.
Nesbitt resigned from the post on 17 February 2010 to become the parliamentary candidate for the Ulster Conservatives and Unionists – New Force in the constituency of Strangford. He lost out to the Democratic Unionist Party's Jim Shannon in the election.
In the 2011 Northern Ireland Assembly election, Nesbitt was elected as one of six MLAs representing Strangford.
UUP party leader
Mike Nesbitt was elected as UUP party leader on 31 March 2012. He defeated South Down assembly member John McCallister with a final vote tally of 536 votes to 129. Nesbitt said he wanted the UUP to become "the party of choice for every pro-union voter in Northern Ireland".
In April 2012, Nesbitt announced that he wanted to make history by being the first leader of his party to attend a Sinn Féin ard fheis. He said: "We should be going to all the conferences of the main parties, not just the Conservatives, Labour and Liberal Democrats."
Shortly after his election, Nesbitt received attention when he criticised the Alliance Party, a rival party of the UUP. He called them "unprincipled and driven by self-interest" and said they presided over "a catalogue of disasters". He challenged their commitment to its core policy of a shared future, saying "I can only imagine the disappointment of Alliance voters hoping for a principled stance on a shared future." An Alliance spokesman retorted, saying "In last year's election the public showed growing support for the Alliance Party. These criticisms come from a newly elected leader with little experience who leads a party that is in decline at a time when Alliance is in the ascendant. We will not, therefore, be responding to these silly remarks."
Nesbitt has tried to present a unionism which is more accommodating to aspects of Irish culture; for example he visited the Gaeltacht Quarter on the Falls Road, Belfast as the first step in trying to overturn the perception of some that his party is hostile to the Irish language.
Following the 2017 election, Nesbitt announced his intention to step down as party leader.
Nesbitt is regarded as one of the more liberal unionists, he had previously stated his opposition to same-sex marriage, but spoke in favour in 2017. His appeal to change the hands of leadership in Northern Ireland with the Social Democratic and Labour Party and Alliance Party fell on the deaf ears of Northern Irish society in which the Democratic Unionist Party and Sinn Féin claimed an increased victory over the opposing parties. He has been compared to reforming and liberal Ulster Unionist Party Prime Minister of Northern Ireland Terence O'Neill by some historians and politicians.
Since giving up broadcasting, Nesbitt and his wife set up their own independent media services company. Nesbitt worked for a public relations company between his careers at BBC Northern Ireland and UTV. In April 2010, Nesbitt revealed that he had 2 daughters from a previous marriage with whom he has had no contact since his divorce from their mother.
- "'I could see myself getting old with Mike'" Belfast Telegraph, 29 February 2004; accessed 6 February 2009
- "Robin Swann becomes new UUP leader". BBC News. 8 April 2017.
- "Mike Nesbitt steps down as UUP leader". BBC News. 4 March 2017.
- "Nesbitt quits UTV over contracts row" Belfast Telegraph, 2 February 2006, accessed 5 April 2009
- Lynda Bryans' profile on u.tv WebArchive.org, 11 July 2002, accessed 5 April 2009
- Michael Nesbitt's filmography BFI Film and TV Database: accessed 5 April 2009
- "Home Sweet Home" BFI Film and TV Database: accessed 5 April 20/9
- Mike Nesbitt's filmography BFI Film and TV Database: accessed 5 April 2009
- UTV Live Special – Mike Nesbitt's last day Archived 12 March 2007 at the Wayback Machine UTV Today; accessed 5 April 2009
- "Victims' posts details revealed" BBC News, 28 January 2008
- "Nesbitt is UUP election candidate" BBC News, 17 February 2010, accessed 17 February 2010
- Strangford: Jim Shannon keeps Iris seat for the DUP BBC News, 7 May 2010
- "NI Assembly election results by stage – Strangford" (PDF). Electoral Office for Northern Ireland. Retrieved 25 March 2016.
- "Mike Nesbitt is new Ulster Unionist leader". BBC News. 31 March 2012. Retrieved 11 June 2012.
- McAdam, Noel (5 April 2012). "Ulster Unionist chief Mike Nesbitt: I'll go to Sinn Féin ard fheis and sell Union to republicans". Belfast Telegraph. Retrieved 11 June 2012.
- "Unprincipled, self-interested... Mike Nesbitt lays into Alliance Party". Belfast Telegraph. 23 April 2012. Retrieved 11 June 2012.
- "Nesbitt takes up Irish language invitation – Gaeltacht Quarter visit by the UUP leader". Andersonstown News. 5 December 2015.[permanent dead link]
- "Confident Mike Nesbitt challenges UUP party faithful on cold spots like same sex marriage and Irish #UUP15". Slugger O'Toole. 5 December 2015.
- "Mike Nesbitt: I caused hurt by not supporting law change on gay marriage - but I do now". Belfast Telegraph.
- Mike Nesbitt's profile on u.tv WebArchive.org: captured 11 July 2002; accessed 5 April 2009
- "My hopes for 2006" Belfast Telegraph, 28 December 2005, accessed 5 April 2009
- "Nesbitt: My secret family". Belfast Telegraph.
- "Kennedy still minister after Nesbitt shake up" The Newsletter 4 April 2012