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Councillors fight back tears as Alliance's Mervyn Jones remembered at special meeting

tributes: Alliance councillor Mervyn Jones died last week at the age of 66, was remembered in a specially convened meeting at Belfast City Hall

COUNCILLORS on Belfast City Council fought back tears yesterday as the chamber remembered an Alliance councillor who died suddenly last week at a specially convened meeting at City Hall.

Mervyn Jones (66), who had represented the Ormiston Ward since 2005 and was a councillor for Pottinger from 1985 until 2001, was found dead at his home in the Dundela area of east Belfast on Thursday.

He was discovered by party colleagues after he had failed to attend the installation of new Alliance Mayor Nuala McAllister.

A visibly upset Ms McAllister said that "if Mervyn didn't believe in a better city he wouldn't have committed his life to it long before I was born".

She spoke of Mr Jones' pride at being a father, and added: "I hope that they (his three sons) know that their father was very proud of them."

Several councillors recalled his "wit and humour", including when he asked a man wearing a Led Zeppelin t-shirt to consider voting for him if he answered five questions correctly about the rock group - although he only got four answers right.

When Naomi Long became East Belfast MP, the keen football fan joked with colleagues that he would have to leave Alliance as he "only backed losers like Glentoran and Sunderland".

PUP councillor John Kyle described the Alliance man as "diligent and conscientious" and someone who "never sought the limelight".

The SDLP's Tim Attwood said Mr Jones "was a bit quirky and a bit of a character", while Sinn Féin's Jim McVeigh said that his 28-year council tenure was "some service to the people of Belfast".

At the end of the tributes, elected representatives and council staff stood for a minute's silence in the chamber.

Following the meeting, Mr Jones' funeral service was held at Roselawn Crematorium.

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