Ulster Unionist Party Honorary President May Steele MBE JP has passed away. Mrs Steele who lived in Browns Bay, Islandmagee was 83 and had been in failing health for some time.
Born May Beattie in Larne, she was synonymous with the Unionist Party in County Antrim since the 1950s, holding many official positions within the party locally, and was a long serving party officer, and Chair of the Ulster Women’s Unionist Council.
Party leader Steve Aiken OBE MLA said:
“May Steele MBE, JP, our Honorary Party President, embodied the Ulster Unionist Party in East Antrim for many, many years. Although she had been in failing health over recent years, she still made a point of trying to get out to attend meetings and conferences, right up to the EGM of the Ulster Unionist Council in Templepatrick in early November, where I was elected leader.
"May’s many friends within the Ulster Unionist family will miss her dearly and I send my deepest sympathy to her family circle. Her contribution to the party and her sage advice to successive Ulster Unionist leaders will always be appreciated and remembered.”
May Steele, who in her working life was a Manager in the Royal Mail, was the widow of Sam Steele who had been both a Councillor in Carrickfergus and later deputy Mayor of Larne. May herself was a UUP representative on the NI Forum between 1996 and 1998 which was the body established in the negotiations which led to the signing of the Belfast Agreement.
She narrowly missed out on election to the Assembly after the signing of the agreement, but was known as a loyal supporter of then leader David Trimble and subsequent party leaders. She was present in Oslo when Mr Trimble was jointly awarded the Noble Peace Prize with John Hume. She was given the Honorary title of President by then party leader Mike Nesbitt in 2016 as recognition of her many years of voluntary service to the Ulster Unionist Party.
Ulster Unionist Party Chairman, Danny Kennedy, said:
“May Steele was a very dedicated and loyal member of the Ulster Unionist Party for many years. May played an important role, particularly in the Ulster Women`s Unionist Council. The entire party will join me in offering our sympathies and condolences to her family at this sad time.”
Ulster Unionist Party Vice-Chairman, Roy McCune, said:
“May was a colleague and friend for many years. She was someone who I had enormous respect for. May gave selfless service and was a leading and outstanding figure in the party over a lifetime. Her work, commitment, and support for the party is legendary. She will be sadly missed and fondly remembered by all who had the privilege and pleasure of knowing and working with her.”