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PJ Bradley, fearless advocate of peaceful politics, dies at 76

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Tributes from across the political spectrum have been paid to veteran nationalist politician PJ Bradley, who has died aged 76 following a short illness.

The SDLP man 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.

Politics runs deep in his family, with one of Mr Bradley’s eight children, Sinead, replacing him at Stormont and running once again in the constituency in today’s election.

The former estate agent’s business in Warrenpoint was taken over by his son, Martin.

Even in retirement, Mr Bradley kept himself busy, writing two books about his beloved local area, Burren, and his involvement in community life.

DUP leader Arlene Foster was among those who paid tribute to Mr Bradley yesterday, calling him a “gentleman”.

“I’m sorry to hear about the death of PJ Bradley,” Mrs Foster said. “He was always a gentleman. My thoughts are with the family at this time.”

SDLP leader Colum Eastwood added: “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.

“PJ’s contribution to Ireland and his life-long work across the island to develop and support the peace process distinguishes him as a patriot.

“This is a sad day for the SDLP, but I know that our members in South Down and in the entire community will be a pillar of strength for Sinead and her family at this difficult time.”

Party colleague and South Down MP Margaret Ritchie described Mr Bradley as a “stalwart who firmly believed in grassroots politics” and who always put the needs of the community in Burren, Ballyholland and Warrenpoint first.

Mr Bradley’s colleague, former MLA Dominic Bradley, said: “PJ was a fearless advocate of peaceful politics who never bowed to intimidation or threat.

His many friends across this island and further afield will be saddened by his passing, but will recall with fondness his bright personality and infectious humour.”

The DUP’s Jim Wells added: “A very polite, likeable man, he was always gracious and never held a grudge.”

And Ulster Unionist Danny Kennedy said: “I was saddened to learn of the death of PJ Bradley, who was a very fine public representative.”

Sinn Fein’s Caitriona Ruane added: “I worked with him in the Assembly over a number of terms and he was a dedicated representative and advocate for South Down.”

Several tributes also came from the Republic.

Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin said: “PJ not only gave a lifetime of service to his community, but reached out across the political divide to build bridges with people from different faiths and backgrounds.”

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