David Cook, husband of our past President, Fionnuala Cook, has sadly died after being diagnosed with coronavirus.
David was a familiar face at our National Forums, supporting Fionnuala in her role, He often gave us gentle advice on the way forward, and took great pride in showing us around Belfast City Hall on the eve of our National Forum in the city, particularly as we passed by his formal portrait.
David was actually born in Leicester, moving to Northern Ireland with his parents when he was 11 years old. His political career saw him as a founding member of the Alliance Party and was elected to its central executive in 1971. David was subsequently elected on to Belfast City Council in 1973, representing south Belfast until 1985, and in 1978 he became the first non-unionist Lord Mayor of Belfast in more than a century. He was also a member of the Northern Ireland Assembly from 1982 until 1986 and stood as a MEP candidate in 1984.
Alliance leader Naomi Long described him as “undoubtedly one of the best Lord Mayors ever to hold the office” but it was through the HCA and the Northern Ireland Branch that we got to know this amiable character. Past Chairs have been keen to pass on their condolences, with Philip Shelley saying, “David gave fantastic support and advice through Fionnuala.” Stewart McKenzie adds, “I spent some time with David and Fionnuala at previous HCA events. They were lovely people,” something that Andy Jones was quick to agree with. “Whenever we felt that we needed advice, we knew that David would be there to keep us on the right path.”
It is our Northern Ireland Branch who will feel the loss most because Fionnuala and David kept themselves very much involved in the local activities, including inviting Branch members to enjoy their garden, something they were both very keen on.
As an Association, we send our deepest condolences to Fionnuala and the rest of their family.