Former SDLP Assembly member PJ Bradley has died after a short illness aged 76.
A South Down MLA from 1998 to 2011 and a councillor for 24 years before stepping down from frontline politics in 2010, he was also the father of SDLP candidate Sinead Bradley.
Colleagues have paid him warm tributes.
SDLP Leader Colum Eastwood said: "PJ's contribution to Ireland and his life long work across the island to develop and support the peace process distinguishes him as a patriot."
He added: "Politics was in PJ's blood. A fierce advocate for his local community in Burren and for all communities across South Down, his compassionate and considered way will be deeply missed by all who knew him.
South Down MP Margaret Ritchie described PJ Bradley as a "stalwart who firmly believed in grassroots politics".
"PJ put the needs of the community in Burren, Ballyholland and Warrenpoint first," said Mrs Ritchie.
"He had a detailed knowledge of the local community and was a stout defender of all the people in South Down - right across the community."
Mr Bradley was a member of Burren Gaelic Athletic Club and an author who recently completed a book on the local history of Burren.
He was also a former estate agent with a business in Warrenpoint which was taken over by his son Martin.
Mrs Ritchie said she and her party colleagues "extended their deepest sympathies to his widow, Leontia, daughters and sons and the wider family circle my deepest sympathies and condolences".