Sudden death of leading figure in Ulster Unionism

Sammy Foster

THE death took place, suddenly, yesterday morning (Tuesday), in the South West Acute Hospital, of former Stormont minister, and long-serving Ulster Unionist politician, Samuel (Sam) Foster, CBE.

He was 82, the father of three, and lived with his wife, Dorothy at Derrychara Road, Enniskillen.

Mr Foster had suffered from Parkinson’s Disease for the past 16 years. Five weeks ago, he was admitted to SWAH and then transferred to the Royal before being returned to SWAH at the family’s request.


His service to local government – for which he received the CBE in 2002 – kicked off when he was elected to Fermanagh council in 1981, retiring in February, 2001, having served as chairman from June, 1995 until May, 1997.

He was appointed DoE minister by his then party leader, David Trimble, holding the post from May, 2000 until February, 2002, before being forced to resign in 2002 with the advancement of Parkinson’s Disease.

A family man at heart, he was a devoted husband of Dorothy and a loving father of Mervyn, Helen and David, grandfather and great grandfather.

A church-going man, he was a faithful member of the congregation of St Macartin’s Church of Ireland parish, Enniskillen.

He was affable in company, was a keen Enniskillen Rangers and Manchester United fan and, when talking about his illness, was candid and philosophical.

He spoke about it to the Herald earlier this year, when he described Parkinson’s as, ‘very inhibiting’. “You can never be sure, when it’s going to as it were, attack you. I can be in good form now, but in 10 minutes, I could suddenly realise that something has taken place in my body that’s left me very weak, and very sluggish – and I can easily fall.

A social worker by profession, he had been a Schools Attendance Officer before that, securing his social work degree at the Ulster Polytechnic (now UUJ).


He was a Special Constable in the Ulster Special Constabulary for 21 years and was an officer with the rank of major in the Ulster Defence Regiment until his election to the council in 1981.

He was on the scene on the day of the Enniskillen bombing of 1987, and was highly commended for his efforts to rescue victims.

He was elected to the Northern Ireland Forum for Political Dialogue in 1996 for Fermanagh South Tyrone and was elected to the Northern Ireland Assembly in 1998.

He served as a member of the Northern Ireland Police Authority from 1982-85, and was appointed to the Northern Ireland Policing Board in 1999 until its reconstitution in 2006.

He stood down from the Assembly at the 2003 elections.


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The Fermanagh Herald is published by North West of Ireland Printing & Publishing Company Limited, trading as North-West News Group.
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