Tributes paid to former Newtownabbey councillor

Jim Rooney MBE.
Jim Rooney MBE.

Touching tributes have been paid to former Alliance Party councillor, James Rooney MBE.

Mr Rooney passed away peacefully at Park Manor Nursing Home on August 20.

The former Carnmoney Road resident was the beloved husband of the late Mercedes and much-loved father of Jim, Clare, Nuala, Peter, John and the late Anne Denvir, loving brother of the late Molly, John, Winnie, Agatha and Tommy.

James served on Newtownabbey Borough Council from 1977 until 2001 and was Alliance group leader on the local authority between 1985 and 2001.

South Antrim Alliance MLA John Blair knew Mr Rooney for many years.

Paying tribute, Mr Blair said: “I am greatly saddened to hear of the passing of Jim Rooney MBE, Alliance Cllr for Glengormley 1977-2001.

“Jim was a mentor, true friend and inspiration to his colleagues and a positive force in local politics. He saw no one as an enemy, believed passionately in a brighter, peaceful, future for Northern Ireland and was one of the most Christian people I have ever met.

“Jim had a long association with arts in Newtownabbey and was a keen advocate of building the Courtyard Theatre.

“Deepest sympathy to his family. James Joseph Rooney MBE RIP.”

Passing condolences to the Rooney family, a spokesperson for the South Antrim branch of the Alliance Party said: “The South Antrim Alliance Association is deeply saddened to hear of the passing of former Newtownabbey Cllr Jim Rooney.

“A party stalwart, Jim previously served as Deputy Mayor of the borough and on his retirement was unanimously elected Freeman of the Borough. He will be sorely missed by his party colleagues. Our thoughts go out to his family at this difficult time.”

Mr Rooney was a keen environmentalist and served as Chair of the UK Clean Air Society and on its board for many years.

Branding the former Glengormley representative a “dedicated public servant”, Mayor of Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council, Ald John Smyth, said: “On behalf of Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council, I extend our deepest sympathies to the family of Mr Rooney at this sad time.

“As a member of the former Newtownabbey Borough Council, Mr Rooney was a dedicated public servant who worked for the best interests of the community and all those living and working in it.

“His commitment to this role saw him being awarded the Freedom of the Borough in 2001, the highest award council can grant to individuals and organisations for eminent service to the area.”

A notice on the Funeral Times site stated: “James’ remains will be brought to St Mary’s on the Hill Church, Carnmoney Road on Thursday, August 22 at 6pm.

“Funeral on August 23 after Requiem Mass at 1030am, followed by burial in Carnmoney Cemetery. Family flowers only please. Donations in lieu, if so desired, to the Northern Ireland Alzheimer’s Society, c/o O’Kanes Funeral Directors, 116-118 Donegall Street, Belfast, or online at www.okanesfunerals.co.uk”