Robert Lynn (politician)

Sir Robert John Lynn (1873 5 August 1945)[1] was an Ulster Unionist Party politician.

He was elected at the Member of Parliament (MP) for Belfast Woodvale from 1918 general election to 1922,[1] and when that constituency was abolished for the 1922 general election he was returned for Belfast West, holding the seat until he stood down at the 1929 general election.[2]

At the 1921 Northern Irish general election Lynn was elected as a member of the Parliament of Northern Ireland for Belfast West,[3] holding that seat until it was abolished for the 1929 Northern Irish general election. He was elected for the new North Antrim constituency, and held that seat until 1945. From 1937 to 1944 he was Deputy Speaker of the Northern Ireland House of Commons.

He was the editor of the Northern Whig Newspaper.

Lynn was a leading contributor to educational debates in Northern Ireland though his impartiality is in question, especially following a comment in the Northern Irish House of Commons that Irish language instruction was not worth spending money on.[4] Lynn at first attacked the 1923 education bill for stripping Protestant schools of their denominational character. However, Lord Londonderry, the Education Minister, persuaded Lynn to support the measure making the latter one of the few public proponents of what amounted to nondenominational schooling.

In 1902, the Education Act had been withheld from Ireland at the insistence of Roman Catholic bishops, the result of which was that education reform in Northern Ireland lagged behind that of the rest of the country by 1920. Lynn was asked by the Northern Irish government to look into reforms in education in 1921 and he set up what became known as the Lynn Committee. However, Roman Catholics refused to serve on or cooperate with the Committee. Much guidance was therefore rerquired of Roman Catholic Unionist, A. N. Bonaparte Wyse (who later became Permanent Secretary to the Ministry of Education in Northern Ireland).[5]

While Roman Catholic representatives boycotted the Committee, Lynn recommended government funding for a separate Roman Catholic education system in Northern Ireland. When the Lynn Committee published its report in 1923, its recommendations were adopted and made law by the Education Bill (NI) of 1923.

On the difficulties of their dealings with the Roman Catholic hierarchy, the Lynn Committee said this in their report:

"We hope that, notwithstanding the disadvantage at which we were placed by this action, it will be found that Roman Catholic interests have not suffered. We have throughout been careful to keep in mind and to make allowance for the particular points of view of Roman Catholics in regard to education so far as is known to us, and it has been our desire to refrain as far as we could from recommending any course which might be thought to be contrary to their wishes."
Lynn Committee report, 1923

The Bill was bitterly assailed by both Catholic and Protestant clerics and was subsequently amended so that its original intent disappeared.[6]

Lynn was knighted in March 1924.[3][7]


  1. 1 2 Leigh Rayment. "Historical list of MPs: W, part 5". Leigh Rayment's Peerage pages. Retrieved 2007-12-26.
  2. Craig, F. W. S. (1983) [1969]. British parliamentary election results 1918-1949 (3rd ed.). Chichester: Parliamentary Research Services. p. 654. ISBN 0-900178-06-X.
  3. 1 2 "Supplement to London Gazette, 8 February 1924". p. 1262. Retrieved 2007-12-26.
  4. Akenson, Donald (1973). Education and Enmity. Queen's University, Belfast: Institute of Irish Studies. p. 51.
  5. Morrison, John (1993). The Ulster Cover-Up.
  6. N.C. Fleming, 'The first government of Northern Ireland, education reform and the failure of anti-populist unionism, 1921-1925', Twentieth Century British History, vol. 18, no. 2 (2007), pp. 146-169
  7. "London Gazette, 4th March 1924". p. 1922. Retrieved 2007-12-26.

External links

Parliament of the United Kingdom
New constituency Member of Parliament for Belfast Woodvale
constituency abolished
New constituency Member of Parliament for Belfast West
Succeeded by
William Edward David Allen
Parliament of Northern Ireland
New constituency Member of Parliament for North Antrim
1929 - 1945
Succeeded by
William McCleery
Political offices
Preceded by
John Clarke Davison
Chairman of Ways and Means and Deputy Speaker of the Northern Ireland House of Commons
Succeeded by
Howard Stevenson
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