Tributes paid to Alliance member after sudden death
A veteran Alliance councillor who died suddenly has been described as "one of the quiet heroes of Belfast politics".
Mervyn Jones (66) represented wards in the east Belfast area since 1985, with only a brief break from 2001-2005, before being re-elected.
The alarm was raised after Mr Jones failed to turn up for a council meeting on Thursday evening, prompting neighbours to call round at his house.
Alliance leader Naomi Long said she was left profoundly sad by her colleague's passing.
Mrs Long said: "Mervyn was an esteemed colleague and friend to all of us in Alliance, and we have all been left profoundly sad by this news. He truly loved the party and working for the public, and his quiet, yet diligent work behind the scenes was of immeasurable assistance to Alliance.
"His political work is well known, working as Alliance Chief Whip on the council during some of the most turbulent periods in City Hall. His political acumen was a huge asset to both Alliance and the City Hall team more widely."
Ms Long described Mr Jones as being "completely dedicated to his three sons", adding that he was never happier than when following his beloved Glentoran, Sunderland and Northern Ireland football teams.
"He will be hugely missed by all of us, not only for his commitment to Alliance and the support and political advice which he offered, but for his dry wit and humour which often livened up long meetings," she said.
"On behalf of Alliance, I have expressed our deepest sympathies to Mervyn's ex-wife, Dawn, his sons Graham, Timothy and Ian, his brothers Trevor, Barry and Keith, and the Jones family circle."
Election analyst Nicholas Whyte said: "My activist days are long behind me now, but I'll always remember Mervyn for a particular act of kindness in the mid-1990s. He brought me as his guest to a civic dinner in Belfast City Hall and spent the evening filling me in on his life experience and his personal philosophy - contrarian, sceptical and decent.
"He was one of the quiet heroes of Belfast politics then, and I guess since. They don't make many like him, and now there is one less. My thoughts are with his family."
The funeral service for Mr Jones will take place on Tuesday at Roselawn Cemetery at 4pm.