Political rivals from across the community have described former South Down SDLP MLA PJ Bradley as a “gentleman” in the wake of his sudden death
Mr Bradley, who was 76, died after a short illness.
He represented South Down in the Assembly from 1998 to 2011 and had been a councillor in Newry and Mourne for 24 years from 1981.
A surveyor, estate agent and farmer, he had been chairman of Newry and Mourne District Council in 1991.
His daughter Sinead Bradley is an Assembly candidate in today’s election.
DUP leader Arlene Foster paid tribute via Twitter.
“He was always a gentleman,” she said. “My thoughts are with the family at this time.”
Her party colleague Jim Wells from South Down added that he was “an absolute gentleman who was respected by all”.
He added: “I clashed with PJ many times in the local press but we remained friends throughout it all.”
UUP Newry and Armagh candidate Danny Kennedy described him as “a very fine public representative over very many years”.
He added: “Whilst I didn’t always share his political analysis or objectives, I recognise the contribution he made to public life, particularly in Newry and Mourne and south Down areas.”
Newry and Armagh independent councillor Henry Reilly said he was “very sorry” to hear the news .
“He was a man I had the utmost respect for,” he added. “I always found him fair minded towards me, and on many occasions he gave me his backing on bread and butter issues.”
SDLP leader Colum Eastwood said that politics was in PJ’s blood.
“A fierce advocate for his local community in Burren and for all communities across South Down, his compassionate and considered way will be deeply missed by all who knew him,” he said.
“PJ’s contribution to Ireland and his life-long work across the island to develop and support the peace process distinguishes him as a patriot.
“I also want to send my deepest condolences to PJ’s family, especially his daughter Sinead who has taken up her father’s mantle as a champion for the people of South Down.”
It is a sad day for the SDLP, he said, but he knew that South Down members will support his wife and family at this time.
South Down SDLP MP Margaret Ritchie described Mr Bradley as “a man of considerable political fortitude” who put the needs of his local community first.
He had a “forensic detail” of local community needs and an abiding interest in local heritage and agriculture.
A keen member of Burren GAC, he recently completed another local history book. His son runs his former estate agency in Warrenpoint.
Sinn Fein’s Caitriona Ruane described him as “a dedicated representative and advocate for South Down”.
“I want to express my condolences to his family, friends and colleagues at this sad time,” she added.
South Down SDLP MP Margaret Ritchie described Mr Bradley as “a man of considerable political fortitude” who put the needs of his local community first. He had a “forensic detail” of local community needs and an abiding interest in local heritage and agriculture. A keen member of Burren GAC, he recently completed another local history book. His son runs his former estate agency in Warrenpoint.