Alliance Leader Naomi Long has said she is deeply saddened by the passing of Alliance founding member David Cook (77) after a short illness.
Mrs Long said: “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.
“We are proud of their hard work, their desire to see a better way forward for Northern Ireland and their determination to make it happen.
"David was not only a leader within Alliance, as a member of our first Executive and later as Deputy Leader (1980-84), but also broke the mould in this City when he became the first non Unionist to be elected Lord Mayor in 1978.
"He served the South Belfast electorate in Cromac in Belfast City Council from 1973 to 1985 and then at the ill-fated NI Assembly from 1982-86. A committed European, he also stood as an MEP candidate in 1984.
"In more recent years, he continued his interest in Alliance and was a regular at party conferences and dinners over the years. His loss in this our 50th year is 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.
“My thoughts and those of the Alliance family are with Fionnuala and the wider family circle as they mourn his passing at this sad time.”