David Charles Beresford Holden (1915 - 1998):
Holden was born in Wolverhampton, son of an army chaplain who was killed during the First World War. He attended the Pilgrims' School, Westerbury, Kent and Rossall School, Lancashire. He obtained a double first in Classics at Cambridge University, where he was captain of the King's College rugby team.
In 1937 he was appointed to the Northern Ireland Civil Service but in 1939, as a member of the Territorial Army, was mobilised to the 8th (Belfast) Heavy Anti-Aircraft Battery of the Royal Artillery. He was deployed to France, though returned before the Dunkirk evacuations. In May 1942 they were deployed to the Far East where Holden served as brigade major in the 1st Indian Anti-Aircraft Brigade in Calcutta, though he reverted to his old unit for the offensive in Burma. After the war, he was briefly acting Lieutenant-Colonel, overseeing the demobilisation of his force, and then returned to a post in the Northern Ireland Ministry of Finance. His career saw a rapid rise, including being in charge of negotiations between his ministry and the Treasury in London concerning reform of the financial arrangements for Northern Ireland originally laid out under the Government of Ireland Act 1920. On 1st July 1970 he became Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Finance and Head of the Northern Ireland Civil Service.
With the prorogation of the Northern Ireland Parliament in 1972 and its replacement by the Direct Rule system, the first Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Whitelaw, decided to build a Northern Ireland Civil Service element into his strategic team; Holden retained his existing tasks, but also was one of those Northern Civil servants to transfer to Whitelaw's new Northern Ireland Office. One his key functions was to act as co-Chairman, with the Republic of Ireland's Noel Whelan, of the steering group during the negotiations at Sunningdale in 1973, charged with setting up the proposed Council of Ireland; Holden was one of only two Northern Ireland civil servants in the United Kingdom team. However, this Council proved controversial and the ensuing Ulster Workers Council strike was successful in preventing implementation of the Sunningdale proposals in May 1974. Holden then reverted to his former posts at the Ministry of Finance and Head of the Civil Service.
He retired from these positions in 1976. For 12 months he was director of the Ulster Office in London, a body dealing with matters such as tourism, and retired finally in 1977. He had been awarded the Emergency Reserve Decoration on its institution in 1952, became a Companion of the Bath in 1963 and was knighted in 1972.
|Born:||26 July 1915|
|Died:||31 August 1998|
© 2019 Ulster History Circle