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Hardline former unionist councillor Jack McKee dies

Former Larne councillor Jack McKee. Picture by Brendan Murphy
John Monaghan

A HARDLINE unionist who became one of the founding members of the TUV has died.

Former DUP stalwart Jack McKee, who stepped down from Larne Borough Council in May after 42 years, passed away at the weekend aged 71.

TUV leader Jim Allister said the Larne man often went "way beyond the call of duty" for his constituents and was "fearless in his defence of unionism".

"Jack was a unique man of the people for whom nothing was too much trouble," he said.

Mr McKee left the DUP to help form the TUV after it moved to go into government with Sinn Fein in 2007, saying he was "sick to the very stomach".

"The bit that galls me is that through all those years of barnstorming and table thumping, what was it all for? Why had all those people to die?"

He had a reputation as a hardline unionist, removing tricolours from areas of east Antrim, opposing council grants to GAA clubs, and resigning from a District Policing Partnership in protest at the police response to loyalist flag protests in 2013.

Earlier this year the born-again Christian also objected to a memorial for eight Islandmagee women convicted of witchcraft, saying it could become "a shrine to paganism" and he was not convinced the women were not guilty.

Sinn Féin councillor James McKeown said he had "differed greatly on politics" with Mr McKee but anyone would "have to admire his commitment to Larne".

He said: "He will be a loss to his community which he represented for well over 40 years. He was an uncompromising loyalist through and through.

"Although his stance softened in recent years in relation to how the council changed, he wasn’t always in support of the steps Larne was taking to change its image."

Mr McKee is survived by his wife Joan and family.

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