By Q Radio News and PA.
Social Democrat and Labour Party MLA John Dallat has died at the age of 73, it has been announced.
SDLP Leader Colum Eastwood MP has led tributes to Mr Dallat, who he said was a fierce and forensic champion of people and the public interest as well as a good and loyal man.
Mr Eastwood said that John will be remembered for his defence of the public purse and his famous good humour.
Colum Eastwood MP said: “John Dallat lived and breathed to serve others. For over 45 years he was the most loyal servant to the people of East Derry and a fierce friend to everyone in the SDLP. I know I speak for everyone in the party when I say his good humour and wise advice will be sorely missed.
Today we lost a loyal friend and a good man. John Dallat lived and breathed to serve others. He took immense pride in representing the people of East Derry for over 45 years and we were so proud of him.
Our thoughts and prayers are with Anne his family. https://t.co/7HwDNGqbav
— Colum Eastwood (@columeastwood) May 5, 2020
“John entered public life at a time and in a place when it was difficult to be an SDLP representative. I know that, despite his tough exterior, he was often hurt when the hand of friendship he extended across the sectarian divide in the late 70s and early 80s on Coleraine Council wasn’t always accepted.
“But it never stopped him trying and only strengthened his lifelong resolve to oppose violence and its supporters.
“As a public representative, John struck fear into the heart of anyone who dared misspend a penny of public money. His forensic skill as a member of the Public Accounts Committee may not have won him many friends in the higher levels of the public sector but it won him respect across political lines.
RIP warrior for peace, rights transparency. John Dallat worried for others future; worked for betterment for all.
We used to joke he was Victor Meldrew in our politics.
Indifference met his fiercest indignation. Difference he truly respected beside own firmly held principles. pic.twitter.com/ryZXEgrDFL
— Mark Durkan (@markdurkan) May 5, 2020
“It was a respect he maintained with a fair hand as Deputy Speaker of the Assembly.
“Even retirement couldn’t stop him and I’m glad that he came back to the SDLP Assembly team in 2017. We will miss his infectious laugh and his deep experience.
‘John lived and breathed to serve others’.
SDLP Leader @ColumEastwood has led tributes to our friend and colleague John Dallat following his passing today.
— SDLP (@SDLPlive) May 5, 2020
“My thoughts, and the thoughts of everyone in the SDLP, are with his wife Anne, his children Helena, Ronan, Diarmuid and his eight grandchildren. John’s family meant everything to him.
“We’re thinking of them at this difficult time and I hope they are comforted by the knowledge that he made an immeasurable difference.”
Speaking in the assembly chamber, his SDLP colleague Roy Beggs lead tributes to Mr Dallat.
.@niassembly Deputy Speaker Roy Beggs opened this afternoon’s plenary session by paying tribute to the late John Dallat.
“I know I speak for all members when I say he will be sorely missed.”
Formal tributes will be paid at the start of next weeks assembly sitting. pic.twitter.com/HaM2n8zAka
— Q Radio News (@qnewsdesk) May 5, 2020
Roy Beggs, MLA.
DUP Leader and First Minister of Northern Ireland, Arlene Foster MLA said,
“We are deeply saddened to learn of the death of John Dallat. We came from very different political outlooks but he was always to the fore in speaking up for his constituents.
“We send our sympathies to his family and colleagues in the SDLP at this very sad time.”
Sinn Fein MLA Caoimhe Archibald said all were shocked to learn of his death and said her thoughts and condolences are with his family.
Alliance MLA Paula Bradshaw tweeted that Mr Dallat was a “hard-working MLA, who was at all times warm and engaging”.
UUP leader Steve Aiken OBE MLA said: “John Dallat diligently represented the people of East Londonderry both in the Assembly and on the old Coleraine Borough Council – to which he was first elected in 1977 – and this length of public service is itself a remarkable tribute.
Justice Minister Naomi Long
Alliance Leader Naomi Long has paid tribute to John Dallat, after his death was announced on Tuesday afternoon.
She said: “Very sorry to hear of John’s passing. I want to express my sincere condolences to the Dallat family, friends and John’s SDLP colleagues from the entire Alliance Party team.
“John is a genuine loss to politics in Northern Ireland and I know his constituents will miss him hugely, too, as will all of us at the Assembly.”
Parliamentary reports show first speaker only - follow this lnk for the full transcription.
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