Tributes from across the political spectrum have been paid to the former DUP Assembly member David Hilditch, who has died at the age of 60.
Mr Hilditch, who had been receiving cancer treatment, passed away on Sunday.
One of only three MLAs who served continually from 1998 until 2023, he stepped down as MLA for East Antrim in September.
Paying tribute, DUP leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson said he “had a passion for people”.
“Despite David’s battle with cancer, he served the people of East Antrim faithfully and only stepped back from elected office in September past,” he said.
“He had a passion for people and believed in serving others whether that was in the political realm or his beloved Carrick Rangers Football Club.”
Mr Hilditch entered local government in 1991, winning a by-election in the Castle district of the old Carrickfergus Borough Council.
He served as deputy Mayor, and in 1997 was elected as Mayor.
Mr Hilditch was elected to the Assembly in 1998, and was re-elected in every subsequent election.
His son Stuart passed away in 2019 after a three-year battle with cancer.
Sinn Fein vice-president Michelle O’Neill said: “I am very sorry to learn of the passing of former Assembly Member for East Antrim David Hilditch. Sincere condolences to his family, and party colleagues on their loss which will be felt deeply.”
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