I was at a constituent’s funeral when I heard the news about Liam Clarke’s passing. I was shocked.
I met Liam in Lisburn just last week. We talked about his health and his family as well as mine. He was very interested – off the record of course.
We shared a cup of tea and agreed to have a more political talk in the new year before my appointment as first minister.
Neither of us thought that cup of tea would be our last together. In fact, we were already thinking of what that interview would look like and where it would be done.
I am deeply saddened for Kathryn and the children as well as the wider Clarke family. I think today also of his colleagues in the Belfast Telegraph and those he worked within the Sunday Times for many years.
As a journalist Liam had an ability to cut through all the padding and get right to the core of a story. He will be missed by us as politicians but of course our grief is overshadowed by that of his family whom he loved dearly and often spoke.
My thoughts and prayers are with Kathryn and their three children.
On behalf of the Democratic Unionist Party I express our dearest sympathy.
Arlene Foster MLA, DUP leader