Alliance Leader David Ford and Deputy Leader Naomi Long have paid tribute to the former Liberal Democrat leader Charles Kennedy who died at his home in Scotland.
Naomi Long said: “Charles was a politician for whom I had great admiration, even before I had the privilege of knowing him personally. Having met him several times at Alliance events, I was privileged to have him as my guest of honour to speak at my Lord Mayoral installation dinner.
“He was not only well respected but well liked, both inside and outside of politics. His politics were those of conviction and courage and his leadership had real influence beyond the Liberal Democrats, not least in his opposition to the Iraq war where he went against the tide of political opinion and showed insight which others lacked.
“With the intellect and ability to land big political punches, he always remained civil and respectful of his opponents. His decency, political integrity, graciousness and humour – often self-deprecating – ensured that he was well liked by both his supporters and opponents.
“That warmth and humility made him approachable and authentic at a time when many politicians felt aloof and manufactured.
“His death will be an enormous loss to politics and I would like to extend my sympathies to his family, friends and colleagues.”
David Ford said “Charles was a politician in every aspect. He was not only respected, he was also well liked by those who personally knew him and those who only knew him on the media.
“While he had the reputation of being a witty TV performer, he was much more than that. He was also a politician of deep principle; never afraid of being unpopular if he was standing up for what was right.
“On behalf of his friends in Alliance, I would like to extend our sympathies to Charles’ family circle.”