Tributes have been paid to former Larne Borough Council Alderman Jack McKee, who passed away on Sunday October 4.
Mr McKee, who was aged 71 when he passed away, served as a Larne town representative for the local authority for 42 years.
He was Mayor of Larne in 1984/85, and earlier this year he received the Freedom of the Borough of Larne in recognition of his long service.
Mr McKee was a member of the DUP until 2007, when he resigned from the party.
He then joined the Traditional Unionist Voice (TUV).
Paying tribute to Mr McKee, TUV leader Jim Allister stated: “Jack was a unique man of the people for whom nothing was too much trouble.
“Even in his latter years of ill health Jack went way beyond the call of duty in serving the people of Larne, a town he loved so deeply.
“Fearless in his defence of unionism and unafraid to often stand alone, it was a great privilege to have him as a TUV councillor till his well deserved retirement last year.
“At our conference last year I had the honour of making a presentation to him for his remarkable decades of service.
“To his wife Joan and family I convey on behalf of the party and his many political friends our heart felt sympathy.
“Jack will be sadly missed,” he concluded.
Coast Road Councillor Ruth Wilson, who succeeded Mr McKee as the local TUV representative, said that Larne owed Mr McKee a “debt of gratitude.”
“Jack was an amazing human being,” she commented.
“He was an object lesson in what it meant to serve the local community.
“He was tireless and relentless in getting things done for Larne. The town owes him a great debt of gratitude.
“In seeking to follow him on council he set the gold standard of caring representation.
“A man of the people, he will be greatly missed by the people he served and by us all.
“His grieving widow, Joan, and his children and brothers and sisters are very much in our thoughts and prayers,” she concluded.
Mayor of Mid and East Antrim Borough Councillor Billy Ashe stated: “I am saddened to hear of the passing of Jack McKee.
“Jack served 42 years on Larne Borough Council and held the post of Mayor of Larne in 1984/85.
“Jack’s service was rightly recognised when he received the Freedom of the Larne Borough in 2015, having served there for over four decades.
“He made a huge contribution to the Borough of Larne.
“There will be many across Mid and East Antrim Borough who will have fond memories of Jack.
“My thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends at this sad time.”
East Antrim MP Sammy Wilson praised Mr McKee’s service to Larne during the Troubles.
“Jack was a founding member of the DUP and served with distinction on Larne Borough Council for 42 years,” he said.
“He loved the town and was a dedicated public servant.
“He served during some of the most difficult years of the Troubles and faced threats from IRA terrorists as a result of the stand that he took.
“However he would not let that deter him from doing his job.
“The votes that he received in successive elections demonstrated the esteem in which he was held.
“Although we had political differences over the last few years we continued to have a very cordial relationship.
“To me, he was not just a colleague but a friend and he will be missed.
“My thoughts and prayers are with his wife, his family, his friends and all those who will miss him,” he concluded.
East Antrim MLA Gordon Lyons added: “On behalf of the East Antrim Democratic Unionist Association, I extend my sympathies to his family.
“Jack was well respected in town as the result of his years of service and I know that many people will be deeply saddened to hear of his passing.
“Although Jack and I were in different parties, he was always personally very encouraging to me.
“That characteristic kindness is why he will be missed by so many.”
UUP Cllr Andrew Parke Wilson said: “You always knew where you stood with Jackie, and he never did me a bad turn. Straight talker, but with a sense of humour. “Treated very badly by his old party, but he always got support at the polls.
“Sympathies to Joan, Leah, and the rest of the family.”
Former Councillors of Mr McKee’s from Larne Borough Council also lined up to pay tribute.
Former DUP Cllr Drew Niblock said he was “saddened to learn of the passing of a true friend and colleague.”
Former SDLP Cllr Danny O’Connor added: “I am very sorry to hear of the death of Jack McKee.
“Jack went from being a political opponent to being a friend, and it was Jack who proposed me to be Mayor of Larne.
“With Jack, what you saw was what you got, and he was a man who’s word was his bond. May God Comfort his family at this time of great sadness,
A service of thanksgiving for Mr McKee’s life will be held on Wednesday October 7 at 1pm in Larne Free Presbyterian Church, Mill Brae.
Interment will take place afterwards in Larne Cemetery.