Tributes have been paid to Banbridge DUP councillor Junior McCrum, who has passed away on Wednesday evening at the age of 57.
The father-of-three, who sat on the Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Council, was first elected in 2005, sitting on the council for 16 years.
He was most recently re-elected to the Banbridge DEA in the 2019 local elections.
While he had been suffering with illness for a prolonged period, it is believed the passing of Mr McCrum came suddenly.
Paying tribute to the man, DUP party leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson said he was “deeply saddened” to learn of the passing of his “friend and colleague”.
"Junior was a faithful and dedicated public servant for the people of Banbridge, being first elected in 2005. He dedicated sixteen years of his life to helping his local community on Banbridge District Council and then latterly on Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council.
“He was a diligent and consistent member of the Democratic Unionist Party. My thoughts and prayers are with his wife Sharon, and his children and wider family circle who can taken comfort in the fact that Junior has fought a good fight and finished the course."
The Upper Bann MP Carla Lockhart described the man as like a “second Dad” and expressed her sympathy to his family.
“It was with real sadness this evening that I learned of the death of my Upper Bann colleague Junior McCrum,” she said.
"To Sharon, Charmain, Ruth and Matthew I extend my deepest sympathies. Their care for Junior over the past couple of years is testimony to their love as a family.
"First and foremost he was a Godly man who lived his life by his Christian principles. Never ashamed to speak of his Saviour or take a stand for what he believed was right. Junior was also a dedicated public servant and lifelong DUP member and long serving Councillor.
"He has served the people of this area faithfully over many years and his loss will be keenly felt by all who knew him. No matter what the problem or time of day, Junior put others first and sought to help in any way he could.
"I always referred to him as my second Dad as he treated me like a daughter. He covered hundreds of miles on the canvass trail for me and colleagues over the years and on days when it was freezing cold and numbers were few, Junior was there with his heated seats and sometimes a warm drink.
"Whilst it is a very personal loss because of how he looked after and supported me over many years, our thoughts are very much with his family. Our thoughts and prayers are with them as they now organise a funeral but also for the weeks and months ahead as Junior will be greatly missed.”