DUP party leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson leads tributes after death of former East Antrim MLA David Hilditch

DUP party leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson MP has led tributes to former East Antrim DUP MLA David Hilditch who passed away earlier today.
DUP online tribute to David HilditchDUP online tribute to David Hilditch
DUP online tribute to David Hilditch

Offering his condolences to the family and friends of Mr Hilditch, Sir Jeffrey said, “Despite David’s battle with cancer, he served the people of East Antrim faithfully and only stepped back from elected office in September past.

"He had a passion for people and believed in serving others whether that was in the political realm or his beloved Carrick Rangers Football Club.

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“In recent times, his illness and treatment were taking an incredible toll on his body, but David would still come to meetings and speak up for the people he represented.”

Mr Hilditch was first elected to the Northern Ireland Assembly in 1998 and was subsequently re-elected in the 2011, 2016, 2017 and 2022 Assembly elections. He was one of only three MLAs who served continually from 1998 until 2023.

“When David retired from the NI Assembly in September, it ended an outstanding thirty-two years of public service,” continued the party leader.

“David first entered Local Government in 1991, winning a by-election in the Castle District of Carrickfergus Borough Council. During his time on the Council, he served as Deputy Mayor from 1994 – 1996, and in 1997 he was elected as Mayor, serving a second term from 2004 – 2008.

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“Whilst as colleagues, we can look back over a life of dedication and service to the people of Carrickfergus, East Antrim and Northern Ireland, our prayers today are with those who were closest to David amongst his family and friends.”

DUP Chairman Lord Morrow added: “This is so sad. David was dependable, reliable, honourable, trustworthy and loyal. He will be missed. I can remember David first being elected in Carrickfergus.

“Such was his affinity to the area, Dr Paisley used to affectionately refer to him as “the mayor of Carrick” .

“His loss will most acutely be felt by his family but he also will be mourned by a community who he loved and served tirelessly.

"He leaves a legacy of public service to others which will live long into the future.”