Tributes paid as former SDLP Assembly member PJ Bradley dies aged 76
Former SDLP Assembly member PJ Bradley has died.
Mr Bradley, 76, was a fierce advocate for his community of Burren near Newry.
The former estate agent was a member of the Northern Ireland Assembly from 1998 until 2011 where he was the party spokesman on agriculture and represented South Down.
Before that, the married father-of-eight served on Newry and Mourne District Council.
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.
"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."
Mr Bradley was one of the first to call for a bridge linking South Down with neighbouring Louth and wrote several books about the area.
The building of the span at Narrow Water between Warrenpoint in Co Down and Omeath in Co Louth has been repeatedly delayed.
Retired Assembly member Dominic Bradley represented a neighbouring constituency and said his namesake was very supportive when he first started out.
He said: "He was a man who had years of political experience in the local council in Newry and Mourne but he was deeply rooted in his own community and had been involved in organising youth activities in his local area."
He was a huge Gaelic games supporter and Down follower.
James Larkin, the socialist trade unionist, lived in Burren and Mr Bradley organised a major conference there marking his legacy.
Since he retired Mr Bradley had written two books about his local area and his own involvement in the community.
Former SDLP leaders Dr Alasdair McDonnell and Margaret Ritchie also paid tribute.