Tributes paid to SDLP veteran John Dallat who has sadly died following a period of illness

The late John Dallat speaking in Stormont in January.The late John Dallat speaking in Stormont in January.
The late John Dallat speaking in Stormont in January. | jpimedia
SDLP leader Colum Eastwood has led tributes to party veteran John Dallat who has sadly passed away after a period of illness.

Mr. Eastwood said he was deeply saddened to announce the death of Mr. Dallat on Tuesday.

He said he was 'a fierce and forensic champion of people and the public interest as well as a good and loyal man'.

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“For over 45 years he was the most loyal servant to the people of East Derry and a fierce friend to everyone in the SDLP. I know I speak for everyone in the party when I say his good humour and wise advice will be sorely missed.

“John entered public life at a time and in a place when it was difficult to be an SDLP representative. I know that, despite his tough exterior, he was often hurt when the hand of friendship he extended across the sectarian divide in the late 70s and early 80s in Coleraine Council wasn't always accepted. But it never stopped him trying and only strengthened his lifelong resolve to oppose violence and its supporters.

“As a public representative, John struck fear into the heart of anyone who dared misspend a penny of public money. His forensic skill as a member of the Public Accounts Committee may not have won him many friends in the higher levels of the public sector but it won him respect across political lines. It was a respect he maintained with a fair hand as Deputy Speaker of the Assembly," he said.

The SDLP leader said Mr. Dallat's 'infectious laugh and deep experience' will be missed.

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“My thoughts, and the thoughts of everyone in the SDLP, are with his wife Anne, his children Helena, Ronan, Diarmuid and his eight grandchildren. John’s family meant everything to him. We’re thinking of them at this difficult time and I hope they are comforted by the knowledge that he made an immeasurable difference," he said.

Earlier this year supporting a move to provide nurses and health workers from the North with pay parity with their counterparts in Britain the late Mr. Dallat praised medical staff at Altnagelvin for the care they had provided him during his last illness.

"I add my best wishes and support as someone who has, in recent times, been receiving extraordinary medical attention in Altnagelvin Hospital from outstanding doctors and nurses," he told MLAs in January.