DUP Councillor Paul Hamill passes away after contracting Covid

By Maurice Fitzmaurice

A former DUP mayor has died after contracting Covid, it emerged tonight.

Paul Hamill, a councillor at Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council, leaves behind a young family.

DUP Leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson paid tribute to the “hard-working and dedicated representative for the people of the Macedon area”, adding his “loss will be keenly felt”.

He added: “Having served as Mayor of Antrim and Newtownabbey Paul was known and respected right across the community.

“Paul brought wide experience to his role as a public representative having worked in industry before spending many years as a pastor. Those skills and experience made him an invaluable part of our Council team.

“We in the Democratic Unionist Party have lost a dear friend and colleague, but my thoughts are with Paul’s wife Ruth, his children and the wider family circle. They will be in our prayers as Ruth mourns her husband and the girls try to understand the loss of their daddy."

It is understood news of the 46-year-old Macedon Councillor’s death has been met with shock and grief with a number of people paying tribute via social media.

The DUP politician won plaudits in 2018 for addressing an audience in Irish during an event at Mossley Mill.

The then mayor welcomed nearly 200 guests to the Theatre for an Irish language event.

It is understood Mr Hamill had been ill for some time.

Karen Smyth, from the Local Government Association, tweeted: “Shocked and saddened by the news that Paul Hamill as a result of Covid 19. Paul was an enthusiastic and dedicated public servant with a young family. Everyone at NILGA will miss him.”

Alliance councillor Tom Campbell tweeted of his colleague on Antrim and Newtownabbey Council: “Very sad news that our council colleague, Paul Hamill, has died.

“One of the genuinely nice guys in local politics, he will greatly missed.”

This evening, the Mayor of Antrim and Newtownabbey Billy Webb said it was “with great sadness that I have learned of the passing of our colleague, Councillor Paul Hamill who sadly lost his battle with Covid”.

He added: “As first citizen of the Borough and on behalf of all of his Council colleagues, I would like to pass on our prayers and deepest condolences to his wife Ruth, daughters Grace and Sarah, sister Wendy, mother Ann, and to his wider family circle and friends.

“Paul was first and foremost a family man as husband, father, son and brother. His love for community led him to enter politics and he was elected in 2014 to serve the community of Macedon, alongside me, to the new Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council. Many of us counted on him as a friend regardless of party affiliation, he treated everyone with great kindness, and will be greatly missed.

“Serving his community in the Macedon DEA, Paul was nominated as first citizen in the role of Mayor from June 2017 to May 2018. As Mayor and with his family beside him, Paul faithfully carried out his duties at hundreds of engagements in every area of the Borough with great dignity and pride. I know first-hand how much his work as Mayor was appreciated by everyone he met.

“Councillor Hamill attended Abbots Cross Primary School, then Rathcoole Secondary School before serving his apprenticeship in Short Bombardier where he went on to become a Senior Weights Engineer.

“A lifelong member of the Boys’ Brigade, Councillor Hamill served with me as a governor of Newtownabbey Community High School and then as a member of the Board of Governors of Abbey Community College. Prior to being elected, Councillor Hamill worked for 11 years as a Missionary in Rathcoole for Belfast City Mission and through his missionary work supported not only those in his community, but many overseas projects.

“I will be opening a virtual book of condolence tomorrow (Wednesday 15 September)and would invite everyone who knew Paul to leave a message paying tribute to his memory and many accomplishments.”

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