The son of Coleraine MLA David McClarty, who died suddenly said yesterday that it seemed that the town his father loved had turned out to pay its respects.
Alan McClarty was paying tribute at the funeral of his father, Independent MLA David, who died on Friday.
“Dad loved Coleraine but it seems that today Coleraine loves dad just as much,” Alan said to the 1,200 mourners yesterday, when some three times as many people turned up as could have fitted into Killowen Parish Church.
Politicians from across the community attended, with Mr McClarty having widely been described as “a gentleman” since his death on Friday.
Rev Donard Collins, who conducted yesterday’s service, said the MLA’s son, Alan, gave “a very emotional and powerful tribute” on behalf of his family, about the joy of knowing his father.
“The church, which seats 400, was packed, with the service also piped to the church hall, which was also overflowing. Many others were standing outside,” said Rev Collins.
He told mourners that David had an amazing breadth of life which engaged so many people, having served his community in politics and amateur dramatics.
His wife Norma and sons Alan and Colin also enjoyed acting as members of Ballywillan players in Portrush.
“Actors, dramatists, politicians, the great and the good, educationalists, sports people and most of all the people he grew up among and knew so dearly all turned out to pay their respects,” said Rev Collins.
“David loved the political sphere, the debate and discussion much in preference to division and duplicity. He managed to be a man in Christ on and off the podium – there was no actor here.
“In Coleraine and Killowen we all counted him as ‘our David’. He loved the community in which he grew up and they in turn, by their coming to his farewell, some 1,200 people showed they loved him too.”
David had been diagnosed with Hodgkin lymphoma in March 2013, and underwent many treatments.