Tributes as former MLA Robert Coulter passes away
The Ulster Unionist Party has announced the death of former MLA Reverend Dr Robert Coulter MBE.
He was a former mayor of Ballymena and North Antrim MLA. He was 88 years old.
Ulster Unionist Party Leader, Robin Swann paid tribute.
“Bob was a stalwart of Ulster Unionism in North Antrim and personally to me he was also a mentor and a friend," he said.
“Bob had a long record of public service, during his time on Ballymena Borough Council – where he served as Mayor - and then when he was elected to the Assembly in 1998 until he retired in 2011.
"He was passionate about education and particularly for children with special educational needs. This was reflected in his role as a key advocate for the recently opened new build for Castle Tower School where he was Chair of the Board of Governors.
"Following in his footsteps in North Antrim, I was always aware of the high bar that had been set by him.
“I send my condolences to his wife Elizabeth, son John and daughter Liz. They are a close family and my thoughts are with them at this sad time.”
North Antrim DUP MLA Mervyn Storey spoke of his personal sadness at the death.
"Having visited him on Tuesday afternoon in Hospital I was shocked that so soon I was hearing of his death," he said.
"North Antrim and Northern Ireland has lost a hard-working and dedicated public servant. A man of personal integrity, character and Christian faith. While Robert and I were in different political parties we shared a common love for our constituency, our country and our faith.
"We worked closely together on a number of issues in our North Antrim Constituency and in particular securing the new capital build for Castle Tower Special School in Ballymena.
"There is no doubt that without the hard work and commitment of Robert all associated with Castle Tower today would not be enjoying the benefits of the new school. He was indeed the driving force behind the project, Unfortunately owing to his failing health he was unable to be in attendance at the official opening of the School just a few weeks ago, however his contribution was not overlooked on that special day.
"Recently I had the opportunity to visit Robert when in Hospital and recall some of the funny and not so funny moments in our political journey. It was also a privilege to read the scriptures and pray with him, knowing that the Word of God and prayer were very precious to him.
"To his wife and family I extend my sincere sympathy and assure them of our continued prayerful support at this time, ever mindful that for Robert in the words of Scripture it is "absent from the body present with the Lord."
Belfast Telegraph Digital