Published Friday, 18 April 2014
David McClarty, Independent Unionist MLA for East Londonderry. (© UTV)
The 63-year-old from Coleraine had been battling cancer.
Mr McClarty was elected as an MLA in the East Londonderry constituency in 1998 for the Ulster Unionist Party.
However, he quit the UUP in 2011 when he was deselected by the party. He was then re-elected to the East Londonderry seat as an independent candidate.
Ulster Unionist Party Chairman, Lord Empey described Mr McClarty as "a real gentleman in politics"
"He managed to combine sincere beliefs with a great sense of humour and was slow to make political enemies, which says a lot about him.
"The past year has been a real struggle for David and his family, and I was always touched by his great optimism and fortitude even when he knew the odds were against him.
"David is a great loss to Northern Ireland politics. I would like to pass on our deepest sympathies to David`s family and friends," Lord Empey said.
Party leader Mike Nesbitt also paid tribute, telling UTV he was sorry he "never got the chance to sit with him in the Ulster Unionist Assembly group".
Northern Ireland Secretary of State Theresa Villiers said she "was saddened to learn of the death of David McClarty".
"Within NI politics he was regarded as a true gentleman and he will be greatly missed by his colleagues and constituents. I extend my sincere sympathies to his entire family circle," she said.
SDLP MLA John Dallat said: "This is deeply sad news, for Coleraine, the north coast and Northern Ireland. David was a warm, kind and welcoming man who was incredibly popular across our entire constituency and across the political divide.
"I served as a councillor with David on Coleraine Borough Council, later in the Assembly and as Deputy Speakers. There is no more warm and affable man in politics today.
"David leaves behind a legacy of good will and a shining example of how communities can work and live together. His ability to work with every political party and every shade of political opinion made him a beacon of hope for a future that's inclusive of everyone."
Alliance leader David Ford MLA said: "I was deeply saddened to hear of the death of David McClarty. He made a significant contribution to the Assembly since 1998, including his time as Deputy Speaker.
"He showed how popular he was locally when he was elected as an independent to the Assembly in 2011. He was a very well-liked politician who worked tirelessly on behalf of his constituents."
The Justice Minister added: "I would like to pass on my condolences to his family and friends. He will be greatly missed."
Cathal Ó hOisín, Sinn Féin MLA for East Londonderry, added: "Despite having different political views I always found David to be a gentleman in all my workings with him. I worked on many issues with David and found him to be totally professional."
Gregory Campbell, DUP MP for the area, described him as "a Coleraine man".
"A man of humour, he was always on good personal terms with his political opponents," he added.
© UTV News