Mr McQuillan first went public on Wednesday with the news on the Nolan Show that he has terminal prostate cancer, and then gave an extended interview about the challenge to the News Letter.
In the wake of the news, his son Andrew McQuillan took to social media to pay tribute to the public for their support.
“My father, Alan McQuillan, would like to thank everyone who has reached out to him and sent messages via social media,” he Tweeted. “The outpouring of support from across the entire community and political sphere in NI and further afield has been incredibly supportive for our family.”
Alan McQuillan himself told the News Letter last night that he was delighted with the reaction.
“Can I just thank everyone who has responded on social media to my son and to me personally,” he said. “People who have known me have come back to me via Whatsapp email and phone.
”They are people I have worked with in the past, some of them 30 years ago and I had lost touch with them. But they have suddenly reappeared and been very supportive and helpful - and I thank everyone.”
Asked if he was moved by the support, he replied: “Very much so. I thought I would get some calls but I was shocked and delighted because through this I have managed to make contact with at least four or five people that I had lost touch with.
He added: ”The volume of support has been really surprising, he said.”You can tell from the Twitter comments that are coming in - I have to say - there hasn’t been a single bad one. Twitter has a reputation, but there hasn’t been a single bad one so far.”I think that shows the true nature of people here when you take the politics out of it - the true nature of people here is what I am seeing in this.
“People are very touched by the situation and relate it back to their own family experience and they are just very open and supportive and kind - And that is the people of Northern Ireland that I know and love.
“Even people who would not be on the same side politically or in terms of the national question - we all tend to gather around each other because we can relate to it [cancer] and we are all human at the end of the day.
“I remember talking to a minister once about rioting and I said to her, ‘When they throw a brick at you it is not a Protestant brick or a Catholic brick. It’s a brick’.”
And the support he is getting is similar, he said.
“The people offering support are offering it from the most basic of good intentions and they are fantastic. It is a reaffirmation of what this place can really be like. It is just a pity we can’t get over the political hurdles - and get the politicians to behave in the same way as the people do.”He affirmed that he has also had phone calls of support from politicians.”
A message from the Editor:
Thank you for reading this story on our website. While I have your attention, I also have an important request to make of you.
With the coronavirus lockdown having a major impact on many of our advertisers - and consequently the revenue we receive - we are more reliant than ever on you taking out a digital subscription.
Subscribe to newsletter.co.uk and enjoy unlimited access to the best Northern Ireland and UK news and information online and on our app. With a digital subscription, you can read more than 5 articles, see fewer ads, enjoy faster load times, and get access to exclusive newsletters and content. Visit https://www.newsletter.co.uk/subscriptions now to sign up.
Our journalism costs money and we rely on advertising, print and digital revenues to help to support them. By supporting us, we are able to support you in providing trusted, fact-checked content for this website.