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collision Former Ireland rugby player killed in crash

David Tweed was riding a motorbike when he was involved in a collision in Co Antrim.

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Former rugby international David Tweed (Paul Faith/PA)

Former rugby international David Tweed (Paul Faith/PA)

Former rugby international David Tweed (Paul Faith/PA)

Tributes have been paid to former Ireland rugby international David Tweed who has died in a crash in Co Antrim.

Mr Tweed died at the scene on Whitepark Road close to Dunseverick on Thursday.

The former Ulster rugby star was riding a motorbike when he was involved in a collision at around 4.30pm.

He went on to enjoy a career in politics, and tributes have been paid by DUP and TUV representatives.

His family said he will be greatly missed.

“On Thursday 28th October 2021, at approximately 4.30pm, Rugby International and former Ballymena Councillor David Tweed of the Ballymoney area lost his life whilst riding his motorbike along the Whitepark Road, Bushmills,” the Tweed family said in a statement.

“David will be greatly missed by his family and friends as well as the wider community.”

In October 2016, Mr Tweed had his convictions for child sex abuse quashed by the Court of Appeal in Belfast.

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Former Ireland rugby international David Tweed (Paul Faith/PA)

Former Ireland rugby international David Tweed (Paul Faith/PA)

Former Ireland rugby international David Tweed (Paul Faith/PA)

He has been serving an eight-year sentence in relation to indecent assault and gross indecency charges.

He was released from custody after his conviction was quashed.

The father of four became Ireland’s oldest debutant when he was selected to play against France in the Five Nations in 1995.

That year, he won another three Irish caps including one against Japan at the Rugby World Cup in South Africa.

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He also played for Ireland against Wales and Italy.

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David Tweed represented Ireland (David Jones/PA)

David Tweed represented Ireland (David Jones/PA)

David Tweed represented Ireland (David Jones/PA)

His staunch unionist views made the outspoken player a divisive and controversial presence for Irish fans.

It was claimed that he boasted about wearing his Ulster top under the green Ireland shirt so the Red Hand of Ulster would be closer to his heart and some supporters said he sang God Save The Queen to himself before each game at Lansdowne Road.

Mr Tweed was a former member of the Orange Order and entered politics with the Rev Ian Paisley’s Democratic Unionist Party after his lodge LOL 496 was prevented from marching through Dunloy during the mid-1990s.

He was a key figure during the bitter sectarian Harryville dispute where loyalists picketed a Catholic church in Ballymena for nine months.

Mr Tweed left the DUP in 2007 over the party’s decision to share power with Sinn Fein and later joined Jim Allister’s Traditional Unionist Voice.

North Antrim MP Ian Paisley said he was “shocked and saddened” to hear of Mr Tweed’s death.

“The one time leading Ulster and Ireland rugby star, political activist, elected official and leading Orangeman David was a well-known Ulsterman,” he said.

He was a larger-than-life character, not just only in his physical presenceMervyn Storey

“To his family I send my condolences and heartfelt prayers at what must be an unimaginably heartbreaking time for them. I pray God will comfort them and give them peace at their point of need.”

DUP MLA Mervyn Storey described Mr Tweed as a “larger-than-life character”.

“I have known Davy and his family most of my life and cannot begin to imagine the sorrow his family have been plunged into,” he said.

“Just on Sunday past he sat in front of me in church. He was a larger-than-life character, not just only in his physical presence.

“A former elected councillor on Ballymena Borough Council, Davy was also to the fore in Dunloy Orange Lodge and Apprentice Boys.

“A formidable rugby player, having made more than 30 appearances for Ulster and capped four times for Ireland after making his international debut against France in the 1995 Five Nations championship. He was also part of Ireland’s squad at the Rugby World Cup in South Africa.

“We extend to his family our sympathy and assure them of our prayers at this time of great loss and sadness.”

In a statement, Mr Allister said: “I am deeply saddened to learn of the death of former Ireland rugby star and Ballymena councillor, Davy Tweed, in a motorcycle accident yesterday.

“Davy, a larger than life character, was widely known across North Antrim and further afield. His family is deeply rooted and respected in the Ballymoney/Dunloy community.

“This is a devastating blow to his family and wide circle of friends. I wish to express my deepest sympathy to his grieving family at this very difficult time.”

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