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David Cook: Former Belfast Lord Mayor dies with Covid-19

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image captionDavid Cook, pictured here in 1982, was a founding member of the Alliance Party

Former Belfast Lord Mayor David Cook has died after being diagnosed with coronavirus.

Mr Cook, 77, became the first non-unionist Lord Mayor of Belfast in over a century when he took up the role in 1978.

He was a founding member of the Alliance Party and was elected to its central executive in 1971.

Mr Cook was subsequently elected onto Belfast City Council in 1973, representing south Belfast until 1985.

He was a member of the Northern Ireland Assembly from 1982 until 1986 and stood as an MEP candidate in 1984.

'Working for everyone'

Alliance leader Naomi Long said she was "deeply saddened" by Mr Cook's death.

"It is because of the vision of people like David Cook and all those who came together to form the Alliance Party that today's society is able to opt for political representation genuinely focused on working for everyone," said Mrs Long.

"David was not only a leader within Alliance, as a member of our first executive and later as deputy leader, but also broke the mould in this city when he became the first non-unionist to be elected Lord Mayor in 1978," she added.

Mrs Long said his loss in the party's 50th year was "all the more poignant as we never got to celebrate that anniversary together as a result of Covid-19, to which he ultimately and tragically succumbed".

Former party leader John Cushnahan described Mr Cook as "a very skilled and courageous politician".

"Many of the initial important meetings of the Alliance Party took place at his home... and alongside his wife Fionnuala they fulfilled their roles with great distinction. He was undoubtedly one of the best lord mayors ever to hold the office."

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