Video: Flags at half mast in tribute to first citizen

Tributes have been flooding in following the death of the Mayor of Carrickfergus, Alderman Charles Johnston.

Mr Johnson, a freeman of the borough, lost his long battle with illness on Tuesday evening. He was 64.

A wreath will be laid at Henly Gate on Saturday in honour of Alderman Charles Johnston. INCT 23-027-PSB

A wreath will be laid at Henly Gate on Saturday in honour of Alderman Charles Johnston. INCT 23-027-PSB

Flags are flying half-mast on council buildings as a mark of respect.

Previously an independent member of the local government authority, Mr Johnston represented Knockagh for 28 consecutive years from 1973 to 2001 and following a 10-year break returned in May 2011 as a DUP councillor for the area.

A scheduled meeting of council’s Regeneration Committee for later today (Wednesday) has been cancelled as the town comes to terms with the loss of such a well-known figure.

DUP colleague David Hilditch extended his sympathy to the Mayoress, Patricia Johnston, Mr Johnston’s son Samuel, daughter Charlene and wider family circle.

Flags at half mast on Carrickfergus Town Hall. INCT 09-702-CON

Flags at half mast on Carrickfergus Town Hall. INCT 09-702-CON

Mr Hilditch said: “It’s a very sad occasion for the borough, which Charlie loyally served for many years.

“As well as a councillor, he was active in a wide range organisations including the Orange Order and with Carrick Rangers. My thoughts are with his family at this very difficult time.”

Edward Stevenson, Grand Master of the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland, said: “As well as being a public representative and civic leader in Carrickfergus for many years, Charles was an unashamedly proud Orangeman.

He was a long serving member of Woodburn Ebenezer LOL 787 and previously served as a senior officer with the Junior Orange Association.

“Last autumn, in his role as mayor, Charles kindly presided over the launch of the Williamite ABC poster for schools, and despite his illness continued to carry out his civic duties with a selfless sense of duty.

“His passing is a great loss to the entire community of Carrickfergus, and on behalf of the Orange Institution I would convey our deepest sympathy to the Johnston family circle at this time.”

Mr Johnston was also closely associated with Greenisland Primary School, where he served for over two decades as chair of the board of governors.

Principal Liam McGuckin said: “We, at Greenisland Primary School, were deeply saddened to learn of the death of our past chairman, Mr Charles Johnston. Charlie was a most dedicated chairman of the school for 28 years, having the best interests of the pupils and staff at heart at all times.”

Deputy Mayor, Councillor Lynn McClurg expressed condolence on behalf of herself and husband Jim McClurg, a director of Carrick Rangers where Mr Johnston was club secretary.

“Charlie was a councillor who truly put service and his constituents above himself. I deeply respected his work ethic and dedication to public service. Charlie loved Carrickfergus and was a strength in the council that will be sorely missed,” she said.

“This is a terrible loss for his wife Patricia, and his whole family. Jim and I extend our deepest sympathies to them and his close friends, they will be in our thoughts and prayers. Charlie will leave a void in our lives that will never be filled.”

A keen football fan Charlie was on the board when Carrick Rangers lifted the County Antrim Shield in 1993 and during a spell in hospital in December past was delighted to be presented with a medal as secretary of the winning club and hold the Steel and Sons Cup after the men in amber’s Christmas morning victory over Harland and Wolff Welders.

A statement on the Championship One club’s website said they was devastated at the death of “our friend, supporter and secretary”.

There were similar tributes on social media from players and the wider football community.