Tributes have been paid to veteran Antrim councillor Bobby Loughran following news that he is set to retire from local politics.
The SDLP councillor has served on Antrim Borough Council for over 30 years, and became the borough’s first nationalist Mayor in 2004.
He will step down from council at the end of the month.
Leading the tributes to Alderman Loughran at last week’s monthly meeting of council, Alderman Mervyn Rea said that it was a “sad day to hear that Bobby Loughran has decided to bow out” from council.
“Bobby dedicated himself to this council and to the community,” Ald. Rea said.
He added: “I hope Bobby has a long and happy retirement.”
DUP Councillor Trevor Clarke spoke of his shock at hearing of Ald. Loughran’s planned retirement.
“We all think very highly of Bobby and he is well respected particularly within the Randalstown area,” Cllr. Clarke said.
He added: “It will be a great loss to Randalstown and to the wider community with his departure.”
Alliance Councillor Alan Lawther spoke of his surprise about hearing the news and said Ald. Loughran had a “distinguished service dedicated to Antrim and this council”.
Sinn Fein’s Henry Cushinan also spoke of the great respect reserved for Ald. Loughran and said when he had first joined council “Bobby had been a very welcoming face”.
“I am sad to see him go and I wish him all the best in the future,” Cllr. Cushinan added.
Ald. Loughran was not at council on Thursday to hear his fellow councillors praise his long-service and commitment to the borough, as he was representing council at the monthly Housing Council meeting.
His party colleagues Kieran McMullan and Thomas Burns added their praise for the veteran representative.
“The respect Bobby achieved from other people reflected well on the SDLP and people simply looked at the SDLP simply because of him,” Cllr. McMullan said.
He added that is Ald. Loughran had been in attendance at the meeting, he would have been touched but embarassed by the plaudits.
“He would have said ‘that’s enough, no more of that stuff’, that’s the type of man he is,” Cllr. McMullan said.
Councillor Burns concurred with the previous statements and said Ald. Loughran had been “loyal to this council”, which was a “tremendous part of his life”.
“We are all going to miss him,” Cllr. Burns added.
Mayor of Antrim, Councillor Roderick Swann said he had a “very high regard” for Ald. Loughran and suggested that following the meeting, councillors should discuss how best to recognise and acknowledge Ald. Loughran’s service to the council.