‘The truth will out’

Mr Christopher Stalford

There is a statement in God’s Word that we should all EVER bear in mind. It emphasises that the Lord will not allow hypocrisy to be linked to His name or covered by a profession of faith in Him.

“. . . the Lord . . . . will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the heart,” 1 Corinthians 4:5.

The press has been filled of late with the eulogies paid to Mr Christopher Stalford, who passed away suddenly on the Sabbath Day past, at the age of 39.

Mention was repeatedly made of his profession of faith in Christ.

That did not sit well with all who knew him. Many have said that there was another side to Mr Christopher Stalford. If there was, and there was in truth no real substance to his profession of faith, one thing we can be sure of — the Lord will not permit His name to be linked with hypocrisy. He will bring into the light the truth!

It has been well noted by Shakespeare that, ‘The truth will out’ — (The Merchant of Venice). That such an observation should be a global opinion, indicates that the Lord in His Providence has ever made such a truth abundant evident!

It is sad to read the opinion of Mr Stalford, giving by Suzanne Breen, the well-known columnist in the ‘Belfast Telegraph’, that she includes in an article on him. He was someone she claims to have known very well. Her words may be read in the reproduced report below.

However, I would emphasis one thing she said right at the beginning on her article.

“The solemn, po-faced politician that outsiders may have initially encountered belied the reality that lay underneath.

The DUP MLA had a wicked sense of humour, swore like a sailor and smoked — although he didn’t want his mother to know.”

Such is not the description of one who walked with God in obedience to his Word! It would appear that he was someone else in the company of Susanne Breen than he pretended to be in the company of others!

If this is not the truth that Suzanne Breen states, then there has been a strange silence from his friends, with none to my knowledge coming forward to deny that he ‘swore like a sailor and smoked’!

I cannot but reflect that such information will not really come as shock to those who worked closely with him, irrespective of the words they employed in their eulogies. One cannot smoke and curse without others knowing about it for both unchristian traits will betray their presence!

His accompanying Arlene Foster to a GAA match in Clones on a Sabbath day in August 2018, caused consternation amongst those who believed him to be a Christian. It was reported at the time his attendance caused “incredible angst and offence to Christians who treasure the special nature of God’s Day”.

Mr Stalford’ s funeral service is being held in Ravenhill Presbyterian Church.

I think that, in truth, his Sabbath-breaking was no aberration but rather the true Christopher Stalford!

Picture of Christopher Stalford at the GGA match in Clones which appeared in the ‘Irish News’, 28 August, 2018.

Note who is directly behind him!

Here is the ‘Belfast Telegraph’ article by Suzanne Breen.

Ivan Foster.

 Blessed with insight and wit, talking with Christopher was never dull

Christopher Stalford MLA with DUP colleagues at the opening of his offices in Sandy Row, south Belfast, in 2016.

The solemn, po-faced politician that outsiders may have initially encountered belied the reality that lay underneath.

The DUP MLA had a wicked sense of humour, swore like a sailor and smoked — although he didn’t want his mother to know.

I spoke to him on countless occasions over the years.

Despite his loyalty to the DUP, his descriptions of some of his colleagues could be quite colourful.

He loved to chew the fat about the political drama of the day.

He had insight, intelligence and wit —it was hard to have a dull conversation with Christopher.

I first met him at an election count in Belfast City Hall when he was a candidate in his early 20s.

He was brimming with confidence.

Despite not knowing me personally, he waltzed over with his future wife Laura, introduced himself, and asked that I find a photographer to take their picture.

I admired such chutzpah in one so young and obliged. A senior DUP figure jokingly reprimanded me for agreeing to the request.

Christopher was hugely ambitious.

He went from council to the Assembly.

He told me he wasn’t interested in Westminster — his kids were too young and he didn’t want to be a part-time dad.

His goal was to be a Stormont minister.

He adored Arlene Foster yet was the first DUP representative at Stormont to announce his support for Edwin Poots’ leadership bid.

He believed Foster had lost touch with MLAs — he wanted to see her chatting with them over lunch or coffee in the canteen.

He told me that he had tried several times to reach out to her but his attempts had been unsuccessful.

He was a natural supporter of Sir Jeffrey Donaldson — whom he held in high regard — yet circumstances had put him in the Poots’ camp.

He later wondered how much that had damaged his career internally.

He was most uncomfortable with the bitter splits that have beset the DUP over the past year. and believed it was essential to rapidly rebuild a united party. He had no time for those still sowing division.

I was looking forward to joining Stalford on the Assembly election campaign trail in South Belfast soon. It was a lively experience accompanying his exuberant canvassers around the Belvoir Estate in 2016.

There were wolf-whistles and a few racy comments about the candidate becoming a male model as Christopher posed for photographs for the Belfast Telegraph. He proudly introduced me to his mum Karen who had brought him up after his dad died when he was seven.

Christopher loved fiercely — his mother, his sister Angela, his four beloved children and of course his wife.

“We’ve been a team since we were 16. Love you Laura Jean,” he wrote on Facebook on Valentine’s Day last week.

The abuse on Twitter meant he avoided that social media platform.

When someone threatened to rape my 10-year-old daughter in a tweet earlier this month, Christopher was in touch immediately about “the absolute filth” that had appeared.

“Don’t let the b******s grind you down,” he added.

Both our daughters had just got their transfer test results and we chatted about which schools we hoped to send them to.

Family was at Christopher’s core.

TUV leader Jim Allister recalled a now poignant visit to the Principal Deputy Speaker’s office at Stormont just before Christmas last year.

“Santa had clearly been very busy,” he said.

“The presents for Christopher’s children were piled high in the room.

“He had lots of photographs of his kids on display as well.”

After graduating from Queen’s University, Stalford had worked for Mr Allister when he was a DUP MEP.

“I stayed very friendly with him afterwards,” the TUV leader recalled.

“He was well above the standard of most of our politicians in terms of ability.

“I admired that in him.

“I was at his wedding and he was at my daughter’s.

“He handled himself extremely well in the speaker’s chair in the Assembly.

“I have no doubt that he had a bright future.”

Andrew Charles was an old friend of Christopher’s from Wellington College which they both attended, and later Queen’s.

“He was very political from a young age and always DUP,” he said.

“He was a great lover of Ian Paisley’s.

“He was very strong in his own views but respectful of others.

“He met Laura through church and they were always by each other’s side.

“Even at a young age, Christopher dressed older.

“We were in the same Orange lodge as well.

“He walked behind me on the Twelfth last year, and we chatted in the sun, putting the world to right.”