Tributes paid to Alliance councillor Mervyn Jones who has died aged 66
Tributes have been paid to long-standing Alliance councillor Mervyn Jones who has passed away suddenly at the age of 66.
Mr Jones, who served on Belfast city council as a councillor for the Pottinger Ward from 1985 until 2001, and then for the Victoria Ward (now Ormiston Ward), from 2005 until present, was found dead at his home in the Dundela area of east Belfast on Thursday night.
It is believed a party colleague had gone to Mr Jones's home to check on him after he failed to attend the installation of new Alliance Mayor Nuala McAllister at city hall.
It is not known how he died and a post-mortem is due to be carried out.
The father-of-three, who was also party treasurer, sat on the council's Licensing Committee, People and Communities Committee and its Strategic Policy and Resources Committee.
Alliance Leader Naomi Long described Mr Jones as "an esteemed colleague and friend to all of us in Alliance, and we have all been left profoundly sad by this news".
"He truly loved the party and working for the public, and his quiet, yet diligent work behind the scenes was of immeasurable assistance to Alliance," she said.
"His political work is well known, working as Alliance chief whip on the council during some of the most turbulent periods in City Hall. His political acumen was a huge asset to both Alliance and the City Hall team more widely".
She added: "Mervyn was completely dedicated to his three sons and was never happier than when following his beloved Glentoran, Sunderland and Northern Ireland football teams.
"He will be hugely missed by all of us, not only for his commitment to Alliance and the support and political advice which he offered, but for his dry wit and humour which often livened up long meetings".
Further tributes were paid online.
Glentoran Football Club said: "Deepest condolences to the family and friends of Cllr Mervyn Jones. A lifelong supporter and friend to the club. He will be sadly missed".
Council colleagues also offered their condolences.
DUP councillor Adam Newton said he was "deeply saddened" to hear of his fellow councillor's death while Sinn Féin Group Leader Jim McVeigh said Mr Jones had been "a long standing member of this council and it is with sadness that we learned of his passing".
PUP councillor Julie-Anne Corr said she was "saddened" by the news while UUP Group Leader Jim Rodgers said he was "shocked and deeply saddened by the sudden and untimely death" of Mr Jones, whom he described as "a most diligent councillor, and an excellent attender of committee meetings over many years".