Tributes paid at funeral of UUP president

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The Independent Online

Ulster Unionist president Sir Josias Cunningham was a calming influence who was held in the highest regard by his party, mourners at his funeral were told today.

Ulster Unionist president Sir Josias Cunningham was a calming influence who was held in the highest regard by his party, mourners at his funeral were told today.

The Rev Jim Tolland told family and friends at First Donegore Presbyterian Church, Parkgate, Co Antrim, that the senior unionist, who died in a car crash on Wednesday, was "honest, upright, trustworthy, hard working".

"When many people think of Joe, there will be many different memories - a loving husband, a devoted father and grandfather, a man superb at his job," the minister said.

"A man who loved the countryside and nature. There was so much to Joe - a truly remarkable man, selfless in the amount of time he was prepared to devote to so many different people and so many things we never knew."

The 66-year-old, a close friend of the Northern Ireland First Minister David Trimble, died after a two-car collision on the outskirts of Belfast.

A former stockbroker, he played a prominent role during the suspension of the Northern Ireland executive in February. He held the post-dated letters of resignation by Mr Trimble and three UUP ministers which the party threatened to use if the Government did not intervene in the row over IRA decommissioning.

He also presided over the crucial vote last November which enabled the party to go into government with Sinn Fein.

First Minister Trimble, Ulster Unionist party officers, MPs and Assembly members were among those who gathered at the church to pay their last respects to their colleague.

The Ulster Unionist president was cremated after a short service in Roselawn in Belfast.

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