ENG: Sir Reginald Norman Morgan "Reg" Empey MLA (born 26 October 1947) is Leader of the Ulster Unionist Party and a Member of the Northern Ireland Assembly for East Belfast. Twice Lord Mayor of Belfast, he was elected the 13th leader of Ulster Unionist Party on 24 June 2005, succeeding former First Minister of Northern Ireland, David Trimble.
Empey attended Hillcrest Preparatory School, Belfast, and The Royal School, Armagh before graduating with an economics degree from Queen's University of Belfast. After that he built up a business career.
He first entered politics in the late 1960s when he joined the Ulster Young Unionist Council. Along with many other Unionists he left in protest at reforms and became an early member of the Vanguard Progressive Unionist Party, serving as the party chairman in 1975 and being elected to the Constitutional Convention in the same year. When Vanguard split during the Northern Ireland Constitutional Convention, Empey joined the breakaway group which formed the United Ulster Unionist Party, serving as the party's Deputy Leader from 1977 until its dissolution in 1984.
Ulster Unionist Party
Empey then rejoined the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) and was elected to Belfast City Council, serving as Lord Mayor in 1989-1990 and 1993-1994. During this period he built up a political base in East Belfast, though in 1995 he sought to become the Ulster Unionists' candidate for the North Down by-election.
However, he was not selected by local party members, losing out to Alan McFarland.
Empey became increasingly prominent in the UUP and was often a member of its negotiating teams throughout the 1990s, the decade when he first became a party officer, and he became a key ally of David Trimble, who became leader of the party in 1995. Trimble had been deputy leader of Vanguard in the years after the divide. In 1996 Empey was elected to the Northern Ireland Forum for East Belfast and in 1998 and 2003 he was elected to the Northern Ireland Assembly.
In 2005 Trimble resigned as leader following a disastrous showing by the UUP in the 2005 general election. Empey stood in the contest to succeed him and on 24 June 2005, was elected. In a reversal of fortunes, his main opponent was Alan McFarland, to whom he had lost the by-election nomination ten years earlier.
Empey is a member of the Orange Order, his lodge being Eldon LOL 7, in the Belfast district.
Empey is married to Stella, who worked for many years in the charitable sector.
They have two children.
Empey first stood for election in the 1975 elections to the Constitutional Convention, standing as a candidate in Belfast East for the Vanguard Unionist Progressive Party he received 4657 first preference votes he was elected. In the 1977 Local Government elections he received 981 first preference votes and was unsuccessful (he did not run in the 1981 Local Government Elections), and the 1982 Assembly election he received 503 first preference votes. In the 1985 Local Government election, he was elected to Belfast City Council with 1117 first preference votes, this was reduced in the subsequent 1989 local government election to 864.
In 1993 he was elected having attained 1295 first preference votes, and was elected again in 1997 with 2309 first preference votes. However this still left him behind his main DUP rival in the Pottenger Council Ward, Sammy Wilson.
Empey has stood in every election since 1998 to the devolved Northern Ireland Assembly. He first got elected to the Assembly in 1998 polling 12.8% of the popular vote; in 2003 20.9% of the popular vote; and in 2007 14% of the popular vote.
Empey also stood against DUP MP for East Belfast Peter Robinson in the 2005 Westminster election polling 30.1% of the vote but failing to get elected.
In the 2010 general election, Empey contested the South Antrim seat, but was defeated by the incumbent William McCrea for the DUP. The UUP does not hold a single seat in the 2010 Parliament, given Lady Hermon's decision to run . s an independent.
On 15 May 2010, Empey announced that he was to stand down in the autumn of 2010 as leader of the Ulster Unionist Party.