Swann pays tribute to UUP stalwart Gaston

Joe Gaston lost his right leg in December 1977 after a bomb exploded under his tractor
Joe Gaston lost his right leg in December 1977 after a bomb exploded under his tractor

Robin Swann, the North Antrim Ulster Unionist Party Assembly member and UUP leader, has said he was “very deeply saddened” to learn of the sudden passing of Mr Joe Gaston, whom he described as “one of the great stalwarts of Ulster Unionism in the constituency”.

Assemblyman Swann extended sympathy on Mr Gaston’s passing to Mrs Gaston and the family circle on behalf of himself as Party Leader and North Antrim MLA, the UUP, and the North Antrim UUP Association.

Mr Swann said: “Joe was one of the great stalwarts of Ulster Unionism in this constituency who was the President of the North Antrim Association of the Ulster Unionist Party. He had served North Antrim in the 1982-86 Assembly, in Ballymoney Borough Council where he also served as First Citizen, and in the Northern Ireland Forum for Political Dialogue from 1996-98, the forerunner of the current Northern Ireland Assembly.

“He was also a true member of the Loyal Orders and held County office in the Orange Order. However, what Joe will perhaps be best remembered by was his courage and determination to continue serving his community after the cowardly IRA attack on him in which he lost a limb during his sterling service in the Ulster Defence Regiment.

“Joe became a terrific example to all right-thinking people with his determination not to let the attack prevent him from carrying out future civic duties in the various chambers in which he served.

“Joe was not just a great stalwart in Unionism, he was a great inspiration and hero to all of us not just in the UUP, but across the wider pro-Union community.

“Joe will be sadly missed and I ask all in the community to remember the Gaston family circle in their thoughts and prayers at this difficult and challenging time. Joe’s passing may be the end of an era in North Antrim Unionism, but let us who follow in Joe’s path ensure that his legacy is that we maintain his determined spirit of serving all of community in the work we do for party, society and country.”