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The sudden death of former Newry, Mourne and Down Councillor, Geraldine Donnelly has led to an outpouring of sadness and loss from her friends and colleagues. Many of them have paid public tributes to the popular and friendly local representative.

Mrs Donnelly died while on holiday on the Spanish island of Ibiza and is survived by her husband Sean, daughters Sandra and Karen and son Niall.

Cllr Geraldine Donnelly pictured in 2006 at Expo 06 in Newry with John McGinn; Conor Patterson, Chief Executive, Newry and Mourne Enterprise Agency; John McMahon, Chairman, Newry and Mourne Enterprise Agency and Cllr Anthony Williamson, Newry and Mourne District Council. Photograph: Columba O'Hare/ Newry.ie
Cllr Geraldine Donnelly pictured at Expo 06 in Newry with John McGinn; Conor Patterson, Chief Executive, Newry and Mourne Enterprise Agency; John McMahon, Chairman, Newry and Mourne Enterprise Agency and Cllr Anthony Williamson, Newry and Mourne District Council. Photograph: Columba O'Hare/ Newry.ie

Here are a selection of tributes made by friends and organisations from Geraldine's community.

Cllr Pete Byrne

Cllr Pete Byrne who replaced Geraldine when she retired in 2016 spoke of his feeling of loss "Words have failed me all day and I still don’t fully believe that Geraldine is no longer with us. Geraldine was a lady in every sense of the word and she will be sorely missed by all who knew her.

Her gentle soul and kind nature was her greatest strength as a public representative. For 11 years she quietly represented the people of South Armagh with dignity and respect. She was a beacon of integrity and never wavered from her principles. She was passionately SDLP and I was honoured to follow in her footsteps and continue her work. My thoughts are with Sean and her family at this difficult time. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a hanam."

Pictured at Pride in Newry in 2012. Photograph: Columba O'Hare/ Newry.ie
Pictured at Pride in Newry in 2012. Photograph: Columba O'Hare/ Newry.ie

‘Nothing is so strong as gentleness, nothing so gentle as real strength.’

Cllr Charlie Casey

Chairman of Newry, Mourne and Down Council, Cllr Charlie Casey who served as Mayor when Geraldine was Deputy in 2011 said “We are all shocked to learn of the sudden death of Geraldine Donnelly who served with Newry & Mourne District Council from 2005 to 2016.

She served as Deputy Mayor in 2011 whilst I was Mayor the same year and we worked well together to serve the communities of Newry & Mourne.

"Geraldine was a well respected public representative and on behalf of my Party and my colleagues I extend deepest sympathies to Geraldine’s  husband Seán, and the family.”

Cllr Geraldine Donnelly pictured at the launch of Oriel 2012 with Orla Jackson, Newry Chamber of Commerce & Trade; David Hanna, President of Newry Chamber of Commerce & Trade; Cllr Michael Cole, Mayor, Newry and Mourne District Council; Clr Frank Feeley, Newry and Mourne District Council; Jim Lennon, Cathairleach, Louth County Council and Paul McCormack, Manager, Oriel 2012. Photograph: Columba O'Hare/ Newry.ie
Cllr Geraldine Donnelly pictured at the launch of Oriel 2012 with Orla Jackson, Newry Chamber of Commerce & Trade; David Hanna, President of Newry Chamber of Commerce & Trade; Cllr Michael Cole, Mayor, Newry and Mourne District Council; Clr Frank Feeley, Newry and Mourne District Council; Jim Lennon, Cathairleach, Louth County Council and Paul McCormack, Manager, Oriel 2012. Photograph: Columba O'Hare/ Newry.ie

Dominic Bradley

Former MLA Dominic Bradley who worked with Geraldine in the SDLP constituency office in Newry for fifteen years conveyed his sympathy saying "My sincere condolences to Seán, her husband, her daughters, Karen and Sandra, to her son Niall and to her wider family circle.

"The area of South Armagh from Crossmaglen to Newry was in deep shock on hearing the sad news yesterday.

Mr Bradley added "I spent weeks on end with her, canvassing at numerous elections and attending many events in the area. It was a pleasure to be in Geraldine’s company on those occasions down through the years.

"The first thing one noticed about Geraldine was her deep love for her family, for her husband Sean and for her children and latterly for her grandchildren. They will miss her greatly.

Cllr Geraldine Donnelly and husband Sean and Mayor Coleman Burns with his wife Kathleen enjoying the Newry Show Dinner in the Canal Court.
Cllr Geraldine Donnelly and husband Sean with Mayor Coleman Burns with his wife Kathleen enjoying the Newry Show Dinner in the Canal Court in 2008.

"Her loving nature imbued her work and was evident in the empathy she had for constituents who came to her for help with health, social, financial, or housing problems. Geraldine put her heart and soul into solving their problems and making their lives better. She had high standards and was never satisfied with anything less than success.

"Geraldine’s approach was persuasion, not coercion.  An initial refusal from officialdom only spurred her on to redouble her efforts, to knock another door, to speak to another contact, to present the case in another form until her persuasive manner melted the resolve of officials and brought about a positive result for her clients.

"Geraldine’s courage in standing up for peace and justice won her the admiration of people from all backgrounds throughout Ireland. She was strong in her promotion of peace and in her opposition to violence.  She stood in solidarity with all victims, with the families of the Disappeared, with the Quinn family, and with the victims of the Glenanne Gang.  Her political legacy is a shining example to all those who aspire to public office at any level and we are all the better for having known Geraldine.  Ar dheis Dé go raibh a hanam uasal."

Newry and Mourne Co-operative and Enterprise Agency

"Our long serving director and former councillor, Geraldine Donnelly, has died unexpectedly while on holiday in Ibiza. Geraldine was a dedicated public servant who worked tirelessly before, during and after her eleven years as a district councillor on behalf of the people of her beloved South Armagh.

"She was also a committed and insightful director of Newry and Mourne Enterprise Agency for many years.

"She was very caring and comported her self always with great dignity. She was a real lady and we will all greatly miss her support. We extend our deepest sympathies to Geraldine's husband Sean and her entire family circle. Rest in peace Geraldine."

Cllr Gary Stokes

"Lost a great friend and colleague today. Geraldine Donnelly we started out on council together back in 2005.

Cllr Geraldine Donnelly with Brenda Byrne, Hilary Halliday and Cllr Valerie Harte at the Southern Area Hospice Ladies Lunch in the Canal Court Hotel in 2012. Photograph: Columba O'Hare/ Newry.ie
Cllr Geraldine Donnelly with Brenda Byrne, Hilary Halliday and Cllr Valerie Harte at the Southern Area Hospice Ladies Lunch in the Canal Court Hotel in 2012. Photograph: Columba O'Hare/ Newry.ie

Geraldine went about her business in a quiet way but was almost always right on every issue and showed a courage very few of us have. My heart goes out to her family who I know she cherished so very much. RIP Geraldine""

Cllr Michael Savage - Newry SDLP

"It is with a deep sense of shock and profound sadness that we learn of the death of our esteemed colleague, former Councillor and dear friend Geraldine Donnelly.

"An outstanding public representative, devoted wife, mother and grandmother Geraldine was kind, caring and considerate to everyone she met. She was someone we all truly respected and held in the highest regard.

"Her untimely passing will leave a huge void within her family and the community of South Armagh and the greater Newry area who she served with grace and integrity.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with her husband Sean, her daughters Sandra and Karen, son Niall and wider family circle at this difficult time. Mary Queen of the Gael Pray for her."

Gillian Fitzpatrick

"Today we lost a most wonderful friend and colleague and we struggle to find the words or understand her untimely passing... Geraldine we will miss you dearly xx

Thoughts and prayers with Sean, Niall, Karen & Sandra and her much adored ten grandchildren and family and wider circle. RIP Geraldine"

Crossmaglen Rangers

"The entire club are deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Geraldine Donnelly Geraldine, a loyal supporter, member and close friend of Crossmaglen Rangers Ar dheis Dé go raibh a hanam"

Colum Eastwood MLA

"Shocked and deeply saddened to hear of Geraldine Donnelly’s sudden passing. Words cannot do her kind, warm and generous spirit justice. Geraldine was the beating heart of the SDLP in Armagh and was loved by everyone who knew her. My thoughts are with Sean and her family."

Cllr Barra Ó Muirí

“Sad to hear of the death of former Councillor Geraldine Donnelly, a lady who always had a nice word to say and always had a smile on her face. Go ndéana Dia trócaire ar a hanam dílis"

Cllr David Taylor

"I’m very saddened to hear of the untimely passing of Geraldine. I always found her to be warm and courteous and she offered me much encouragement when first elected to Council. My thoughts are with her family and party colleagues at this difficult time"

Megan Fearon MLA

“So sorry to hear of Geraldine Donnelly’s untimely passing. She was a well respected representative of the South Armagh community for years. She was warm, friendly & very easy to work with. Thinking of her family & friends at this difficult time. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a hanam”

Cllr Henry Reilly

"This is tragic news -Geraldine was a true lady in every way. She was diligent in her duties as a councillor and represented the people of South Armagh with great energy and distinction. My sincere condolences to Geraldines family friends and colleagues."

Wave Trauma Centre

"So sorry to hear of the sudden death of Geraldine Donnelly. Geraldine provided a lot of support in the Crossmaglen area in the search for the Disappeared. She was always so supportive and compassionate. May she rest in peace."

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