Belfast Telegraph

SDLP victor Sinead Bradley buries party veteran father

By John Mulgrew

It was a day of both heartache and triumph in the Bradley household yesterday. Instead of celebrating another solid victory in South Down, Sinead Bradley was instead attending her father PJ's funeral.

The former SDLP veteran died earlier this week, aged 76, following a short illness.

Politics runs deep in his family, with Sinead replacing him at Stormont and running once again in his constituency.

She was elected at the third stage of the count at the Valley Leisure Complex in Lisburn.

At the count yesterday, SDLP MP Margaret Ritchie spoke on behalf of the party, whose joy at reclaiming Ms Bradley's seat was tempered by sadness at this week's news.

Ms Ritchie said she was "delighted" with Ms Bradley's appointment to her father's former seat.

Mr Bradley passed away on Wednesday.

He served on the former Newry and Mourne District Council for 24 years, represented South Down in the Assembly from after the Good Friday Agreement in 1998 until 2011 and was the party's agriculture spokesman.

Tributes were paid from right across the political spectrum.

Among them were DUP leader and re-elected MLA Arlene Foster, who called him a "gentleman". SDLP leader Colum Eastwood said: "Politics was in PJ's blood. A fierce advocate for his local community in Burren and for all communities across South Down, his compassionate and considered way will be deeply missed by all who knew him."

And at the South Down count yesterday, it was Sinn Fein popping champagne corks, with Sinead Ennis topping the polls, closely followed by Chris Hazzard.

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