Published Saturday, 02 July 2011
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Sir Oliver was leader of the party from 1973 to 1984 and an Alliance minister in the 1974 Stormont power-sharing Executive.
He founded the party with the vision that it would create a new non-sectarian society where Protestants and Catholics would work together to achieve peace and prosperity in Northern Ireland.
His family, including his nine children, have paid tribute describing him as a "family man" with a "mischievous sense of humour"
In a statement they said: "It was in his garden growing vegetables and teaching his children how to cultivate and rear animals that he was happiest. He had a thirst for knowledge, was an avid reader and had a love for languages, especially Spanish".
Oliver John Napier was born on 11 July 1935. He was the eldest son of Belfast solicitor James J Napier and Sheila Bready.
Having been educated at St Malachy's College Belfast and Queen's University, he obtained his Law degree before entering his father's practice.
His crowning political achievement was the Sunningdale Agreement in 1973 and he felt that the collapse of the Executive was a major setback which later cost thousands of people their lives.
Alliance Party leader David Ford has also led tributes, saying: "This is an extremely sad day for Northern Ireland. On behalf of the entire Alliance Party, I want to pass on deepest sympathies to Sir Oliver's family at this very difficult time. Oliver embodied the spirit of Alliance and he was the man who inspired me to join the party.
"Sir Oliver was very highly respected and popular with everyone who had the pleasure of knowing him. His legacy can be seen right at the heart of the party to this day and he will very sadly missed."
Deputy Alliance leader and East Belfast MP, Naomi Long, said: "Oliver was a tireless constituency worker here East Belfast, serving the whole community and building a strong following for the Party in East Belfast.
"All of us who have represented this constituency for Alliance since owe much to Oliver's vision and dedication. It was an honour to have his support and endorsement during the Westminster campaign last year and I know that he was delighted at our success.
"My thoughts and prayers are with his family at this very sad time."
Sinn Féin President, Gerry Adams TD extended his condolences to the family of Oliver Napier.
He said: "One of the founders of the Alliance Party and its leader from 1973 to 1984, Oliver Napier was respected across the political spectrum and will be sadly missed by his family and many friends and political colleagues."