Tributes have been paid to vastly experienced and highly respected Carrickfergus councillor James Brown who passed away on Tuesday following an illness.
James ‘Jim’ Brown MBE was an Independent councillor for the Carrick Castle district electoral area of Mid & East Antrim Borough Council.
He had served for several decades.
On Monday night at a meeting of the council, councillors had been told Cllr Brown was in the City Hospital and the Mayor, Cllr Lindsay Millar, had told colleagues the thoughts of all those in the chamber were with him.
On Tuesday, after news of his passing emerged, the Ulster Unionist councillor, who is from Carrick, expressed her condolences to Mr Brown’s family.
In a follow-up statement the Mayor said: “We were saddened to hear of the death of our colleague Mr Brown. Our thoughts are with his wife and family.
“He had been ill for some time and we extend our sympathy to his family and friends.”
Mr Brown had been involved in politics for decades and was regarded as ‘Mr Carrickfergus’ by many.
He was one of the most experienced councillors in Northern Ireland.
He was formerly a member of the Ulster Unionist Party and on several occasions topped the poll in council elections.
Mr Brown was a former Mayor of the former Carrickfergus Borough Council and in the shake-up of local government was elected to the new Mid and East Antrim Borough Council in 2014.
Alliance Party East Antrim MLA, Stewart Dickson, said: “I first met Jimmy in Carrickfergus Technical College in the 1960s, and served on Carrickfergus Borough Council with him for many years.
“I joined the council four years before him in 1977, we often worked together in a pragmatic way to benefit our constituents.
“He spent the latter part of his life in poltics and had a core of supporters that always ensured he was elected to Council for a lengthy continuous spell over the course of various elections.
“We did not always see eye to eye politically on many issues, but I can honestly say he had the interests of the Borough of Carrickfergus at heart.
“I know he had been ill for some time, and my sincere sympathy goes to his wife Esther and his family.”
Deputy Mayor of Mid and East Antrim Borough Council, DUP councillor Cheryl Johnston, said her thoughts were with Cllr Brown’s family.
“I’ve known Jimmy for a number of years and it’s extremely sad. My thoughts are with his entire family circle at this time. He’ll be missed by us all.”
TUV councillor Timothy Gaston said that Cllr Brown was a “faithful servant”.
“My thoughts and prayers are with the entire family circle at this sad time,” he said.
DUP councillor Billy Ashe served on both councils with Cllr Brown for many years and said that Cllr Brown had initially encouraged him to get involved in politics, though he ended up eventually choosing the DUP over the UUP.
“My thoughts are with his wife, daughters and grandchildren,” Councillor Ashe said.
TUV councillor Ruth Wilson said she was “very shocked and sad to hear about Jim.”
She added: “We had some great chats and I will miss him and his great words in Council. At home with the Lord whom he loved. Love and prayers with Esther and Louise and the family circle.”
A vast number of tributes were paid to Cllr Brown on social media.
One woman said: “He was one of the nicest men I ever met.”
One man said: “He represented Carrickfergus very well and will be a great loss to the community.”
Another man said the councillor “spent his life helping others, a great loss to the Carrickfergus community”.
His funeral service will take place in Carrickfergus on Friday August 10.
A notice on www.funeraltimes.com read:
‘The death has occurred of: CHARLES JAMES (JIMMY) BROWN M.B.E
Called Home August 7, 2018, to be with his Lord, dearly-beloved husband of Esther, loving father of Louise, Alison, son-in-law Steve, granddaughters Eloise and Sarah and Martin.
Funeral Service in his home 1 Coronation Road, Carrickfergus on Friday 10th at 12.00 noon and afterwards to Victoria Cemetery.
Donations in lieu of flowers, if desired, to Kidney Research or Chest, Heart & Stroke Association, c/o S & J Irvine Funeral Directors, 31-35 Irish Quarter South, Carrickfergus, (please make cheques to above charities).
Will be sadly missed by the family circle.
Safe in the arms of Jesus.’