< Back to 68k.news UK front page

Paul Hamill, DUP councillor and father-of-two, dies following spell in hospital

Original source (on modern site) | Article images: [1]

A former DUP Mayor of Antrim and Newtownabbey has died after a lengthy spell in hospital.

ather-of-two Paul Hamill was a popular member of the council on which he has served for seven years.

DUP leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson sent his condolences to Mr Hamill's wife Ruth and their children.

"Paul was a hard-working and dedicated representative for the people of the Macedon area and his loss will be keenly felt. Having served as Mayor of Antrim and Newtownabbey Paul was known and respected right across the community," said Sir Jeffrey.

"Paul brought wide experience to his role as a public representative having worked in industry before spending many years as a pastor. Those skills and experience made him an invaluable part of our Council team.

"We in the Democratic Unionist Party have lost a dear friend and colleague, but my thoughts are with Paul's wife Ruth, his children and the wider family circle. They will be in our prayers as Ruth mourns her husband and the girls try to understand the loss of their daddy."

DUP peer Lord Dodds said he was "devastated" to learn of the man's passing.

"I have known him since before he was an elected representative and even 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," he said.

"Paul was a tireless worker for the people of Rathcoole and the wider Newtownabbey area. He touched the lives of many people during his time as a local Councillor and he will be greatly missed by everyone in the area. He was a Believer in his Lord and Saviour and reached many more people also through his pastoral work with Belfast City Mission."

A fortnight ago, friends had asked for prayers for the councillor who was in Antrim Hospital. TUV leader Jim Allister offered his condolences to the family.

Ulster Unionist group leader on the council, Mark Cosgrove, also paid tribute to the DUP man.

"On behalf of the Ulster Unionist Party I extend my sincere sympathies to Paul's wife Ruth, their children and extended family. I also offer my condolences to Paul's colleagues," he said.

"This is devastating news for them all and is hard to take in. Paul will be sadly missed by his family and many friends."

UUP councillor Robert Foster added: "I've known Paul since our days in Shorts Bombardier and he will be greatly missed by his constituents and all who knew him."

In 2018, Mr Hamill gave an address in Irish at a gathering in the Theatre at The Mill in Newtownabbey for language groups and schoolchildren.

He said he was a "mayor for all the people in the borough". A nationalist friend who spoke Irish had initially helped him learn a few sentences and he also sought assistance with his pronunciation from a teacher at an Irish-medium school.

Speaking before the event, he told the Belfast Telegraph: "As part of Irish Language Week, I am hosting an evening of song, music and dance to which a range of people from across the Irish language community have been invited.

"As mayor I feel it is right for me to say a few words in Irish at the beginning to welcome everybody. I think it will be a great night and I am very much looking forward to it."

Mr Hamill revealed that he had addressed an audience in Irish on two previous occasions. "In December, I went to Ionad Teaghlaigh Ghleann Darach, the Family Centre in Crumlin, and I wished them all a Happy Christmas and a prosperous New Year in Irish and managed a few other sentences," he said.

Devastated at the passing of Paul Hamill who touched the lives of so many as a pastor and local councillor. Our thoughts and prayers are with Ruth and his daughters. He will be greatly missed by those who had the great privilege to know him. pic.twitter.com/keSW6wGgr0

— Nigel Dodds (@NigelDoddsDUP) September 14, 2021

"I have a good friend from a nationalist background who speaks Irish and he offered a little bit of assistance in advance, which was very much appreciated."

The mayor said he also made a short speech in Irish during a visit to St MacNissius primary school in Tannaghmore, Antrim.

"I spoke to a teacher in the school and told her in English what I wanted to say and she sent me back an Irish translation with a phonetic pronunciation as well.

"I practised it and then sent her my first attempt on WhatsApp and she worked with me to improve it," he added.

Mr Hamill said he thought controversy over the Irish language was unfortunate: "I understand why it's perceived to be a big deal by some but that's not the way I approach it and I think the hype is regrettable.

"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.

"It has so far been much appreciated. I believe the role of mayor is apolitical. I genuinely want to be a mayor for everyone in the borough and not just for some.

"Nobody has objected or criticised me and I don't see why they would. 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."

Download the Belfast Telegraph App

Get quick and easy access to the latest Northern Ireland news, sport, business and opinion with the Belfast Telegraph App.

< Back to 68k.news UK front page