Belfast Telegraph

Long leads tributes to Alliance Party stalwart Seamus Close, who has died

Seamus Close, a former Alliance deputy leader
Seamus Close, a former Alliance deputy leader

Seamus Close, a former deputy leader of Northern Ireland's Alliance Party has died after a short illness.

Mr Close, who had been an MLA in Lagan Valley for nine years, had been suffering from cancer.

In June 2001 he resigned as Deputy Leader of the party, citing differences with the leadership of Seán Neeson.

He retired from politics in 2006.

Alliance leader Naomi Long described him as “larger than life and full of fun”.

“He was a straight-talker – people didn’t always like the message he brought but he gave it to them with both barrels, and he’s somebody I had huge affection for,” she said.

“So, genuinely really sad to have heard the news this morning.

“It’s a very, very sad day – he will be really missed.”

Mrs Long told BBC Radio Ulster’s Nolan Show that Mr Close, from Lisburn, played a significant role in her party’s negotiating team during the Good Friday Agreement.

“I knew he had been ill and I had phoned last week, but he was sleeping at the time I phoned so we never got to have a final chat, which is a shame because I would love to have just had an opportunity to speak to him, but that’s the life way goes,” she said.

“Everyone who knew Seamus will genuinely miss him.”

Danny Kennedy, of the  UUP, said that he was "deeply sorry" to learn of the death.

"He was a highly effective representative, widely respected and a man of integrity," said Mr Kennedy.

" I extend my sincere sympathy to his family, friends and political colleagues at this sad time."

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