Stephen Farry

Stephen Anthony Farry MP (born 22 April 1971)[2] is an Alliance Party of Northern Ireland politician.[3]

Stephen Farry

Deputy Leader of the Alliance Party of Northern Ireland
Assumed office
3 December 2016
LeaderNaomi Long
Member of Parliament
for North Down
Assumed office
12 December 2019
Preceded bySylvia Hermon
Majority2,968 (7.3%)
Member of the Legislative Assembly
for North Down
In office
7 March 2007  16 December 2019
Preceded byEileen Bell
Succeeded byAndrew Muir
Minister for Employment and Learning
In office
5 May 2011  6 May 2016
First MinisterPeter Robinson
Arlene Foster
Deputy First MinisterMartin McGuinness
John O'Dowd (Acting)
Preceded byDanny Kennedy
Succeeded byabolished
Personal details
Stephen Anthony Farry[1]

(1971-04-22) 22 April 1971 (age 50)
Newtownards, County Down, Northern Ireland
Political partyAlliance
Alma materQueen's University, Belfast

He served as a Member of the Legislative Assembly (MLA) for North Down from 2007 to 2019, and was Minister for Employment and Learning in the Northern Ireland Executive until the post was abolished in 2016. In December 2019, he was elected to the United Kingdom House of Commons as the Member of Parliament (MP) for the North Down constituency.[3]

Farry has served as the Deputy Leader of the Alliance Party since December 2016.

Early life and career

Farry is the son of Vincent Farry and Margaret Farry (née Greer).[3] He graduated from Queen's University, Belfast in 1992 with a BSSc in Politics and a PhD in International Relations in 2000. He was elected to the Assembly in the 2007 election for North Down, having first been elected to North Down Borough Council in 1993. In 1996, he was an unsuccessful candidate in the Northern Ireland Forum election in Fermanagh and South Tyrone.[4]

He is a former General Secretary of the Alliance Party of Northern Ireland. He was appointed an International Peace Scholar by the US Institute of Peace in 2005. In 2007, he became Mayor of North Down.

Political career

Minister for Employment and Learning

Farry held his North Down seat in the 2011 Assembly election, and was subsequently appointed Minister for Employment and Learning in the 4th Northern Ireland Executive.[5]

In September 2011, Farry announced a freeze on tuition fees in Northern Ireland, with fees only subject to an inflationary rise.[6]

Following the decision by Alliance Party councillors to vote in favour of restricting the flying of the Union flag at Belfast City Hall to 17 specific days throughout the year in December 2012, Farry's constituency office in Bangor was the subject of an attempted arson attack.[7]

In February 2013, he launched a review of apprenticeships and youth training, aiming to build a "gold standard" system capable of "rebalancing of the local economy and meeting the specific needs of business for a highly-skilled workforce".[8] The 32 proposals launched by the department in June 2014 included incentives for businesses, and were welcomed by the Confederation of British Industry, the Federation of Small Businesses and NUS-USI.[9][10]

Following the 2016 elections, Farry had been tipped by The Irish News to succeed David Ford as Minister of Justice.[11] However, with the Alliance Party opting to enter opposition, he returned to the backbench.[12] He subsequently assumed positions on the Stormont Committee for the Economy and Business Committee, remaining on these until the collapse of the Assembly in February 2017.[13]

Deputy Leader of the Alliance Party

Following the resignation of David Ford as Alliance leader on 5 October 2016, Farry was named by The Irish Times as a potential leadership contender alongside Naomi Long.[14] However, he did not stand as a leadership candidate and was later elected unopposed as Deputy Leader of the party.[15][16]

At the 2017 Assembly election, Farry increased his share of first-preference votes in North Down to 7,014 (18.6%) and was re-elected on the first count. He currently serves as Alliance's Brexit spokesperson and has strongly advocated for a People's Vote, argued against a no-deal Brexit and maintains that the Northern Ireland backstop must be part of any Withdrawal Agreement should the UK leave the European Union.[17]

Member of Parliament

On 13 December 2019, Farry was elected to represent the constituency of North Down in the 2019 general election. Farry replaced long-term incumbent Lady Sylvia Hermon, who had stepped down at the election after eighteen years as an Ulster Unionist, and later independent, MP. Farry made his maiden speech on 20 December 2019, starting his speech in Irish to "reflect the shared traditions of Northern Ireland"; it was the first time since 1901 that a maiden speech had been conducted in Irish, when Thomas O'Donnell was chastised by the then-Speaker for not speaking in English in the chamber.[18]

In May 2020, Farry was one of a number of politicians warned that he was under threat from loyalist paramilitaries. The threat was believed to have come from elements of the UDA in south-east Antrim.[19]

Personal life

In 2005, Farry married Wendy Watt. He lists his recreations as travel and international affairs.[3]


  1. "No. 8218". The Belfast Gazette. 23 December 2019. p. 1002.
  2. Brunskill, Ian. The Times guide to the House of Commons 2019 : the definitive record of Britain's historic 2019 General Election. p. 175. ISBN 978-0-00-839258-1. OCLC 1129682574.
  3. "Farry, Stephen Anthony, (born 22 April 1971), MP (Alliance) North Down, since 2019". WHO'S WHO & WHO WAS WHO. doi:10.1093/ww/9780199540884.013.u246158. Retrieved 5 May 2021.
  4. "1996 Candidates – Fermanagh and South Tyrone".
  5. Keenan, Dan (17 May 2011). "Stormont Assembly votes in new team of Ministers". Irish Times. Retrieved 26 December 2011.
  6. "NI university tuition fees frozen". BBC News. 8 September 2011. Retrieved 26 December 2018.
  7. McDonald, Henry (6 December 2012). "Alliance minister accuses loyalist attackers of endangering child's life". The Guardian. Retrieved 26 December 2012.
  8. "Minister reviewing apprenticeships". BBC News. 11 February 2013. Retrieved 26 December 2018.
  9. "Review of NI training and skills". BBC News. 12 January 2014. Retrieved 26 December 2018.
  10. Elliott, David (16 January 2014). "Apprenticeships here 'could be the envy of the world'". Belfast Telegraph. ISSN 0307-1235. Retrieved 26 December 2018.
  11. Manley, John (11 May 2016). "Stephen Farry earmarked by Alliance for justice portfolio". Irish News. Retrieved 1 July 2020.
  12. Moriarty, Gerry (19 May 2016). "Battle looms for NI justice post as Alliance pulls out of executive". The Irish Times. Retrieved 26 December 2018.
  13. "Dr Stephen Farry Biography". Northern Ireland Assembly.
  14. Moriarty, Gerry. "David Ford to step down as leader of North's Alliance Party". The Irish Times. Retrieved 26 December 2018.
  15. "Naomi Long becomes new Alliance leader". BBC News. 26 October 2016. Retrieved 26 December 2018.
  16. "Farry is new deputy leader of Alliance". BBC News. 3 December 2016. Retrieved 26 December 2018.
  17. "Stephen Farry: A People's Vote can help dig us out of hole Brexit has now become". ISSN 0307-1235. Retrieved 7 July 2019.
  18. Murray, Sean. "'Go raibh maith agat': New Alliance MP makes first remarks to the House of Commons in Irish". Retrieved 20 December 2019.
  19. "Police warn politicians about loyalist paramilitary threats". 11 May 2020 via