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Tributes for DUP councillor after his death from Covid-19

Original source (on modern site)

Politicians from across the political divide have paid tribute to a former DUP mayor who died from Covid-19.

opular Antrim and Newtownabbey councillor Paul Hamill had been on a ventilator for over a week in Antrim Hospital after contracting the virus.

He is survived by his wife Ruth and daughters Grace and Sarah.

Alliance mayor of the borough Billy Webb said: "It is with great sadness that I have learned of the passing of our colleague, Councillor Paul Hamill, who sadly lost his battle with Covid.

"Paul was first and foremost a family man - a husband, father, son and brother. His love for the community led him to enter politics.

"Many of us counted on him as a friend regardless of party affiliation. He treated everyone with great kindness, and will be greatly missed."

Mr Hamill was elected to the council seven years ago and was mayor from 2017-18. He asked nationalist friends to help him learn some Irish and addressed events several times in the language during his time of office.

He said he wanted to be "mayor for all the people in the borough", and that controversy over the language was unfortunate.

"If I'm invited to something or am hosting an event involving Irish speakers then I want to show them respect by speaking a few words myself," he said.

"The Queen started her speech at a banquet in Dublin Castle with a few words in Irish and I believe that was a good example to set. It's all just about showing an interest in and respecting other people's culture."

A virtual book of condolences is to open for him. DUP leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson said he was with Mr Hamill in Rathcoole a few days before he became ill and was struck by his passion for the community.

"Paul was a hard-working and dedicated representative for the people of the Macedon area and his loss will be keenly felt. He was known and respected right across the community," Sir Jeffrey added.

DUP group leader Philip Brett tweeted: "We are utterly heartbroken at the loss of our dear friend and colleague Councillor Paul Hamill. He had the unique ability to bring out the best in everyone. We will miss that infectious smile. Tonight, we hold his family in our heart."

Former DUP deputy leader Lord Dodds said he was devastated to learn of Mr Hamill's death.

"I have known him since before he joined the DUP. Throughout that time he has been a tower of strength to me personally and to the party within North Belfast.

"Paul was a tireless worker for the people of Rathcoole and the wider Newtownabbey area."

Lord Dodds said his colleague had "reached many people through his pastoral work with Belfast City Mission".

Ulster Unionist council group leader Mark Cosgrove said: "This is devastating news and is hard to take in. Paul will be sadly missed by his family and many friends."

Mr Hamill previously worked as an engineer in Short Bombardier.

A lifelong member of the Boys' Brigade, he served as a governor of Newtownabbey Community High School and as a member of the board of governors of Abbey Community College.

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