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DUP party in shock as rising star politician & dad of 4 dies suddenly aged 39

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DUP politician Christopher Stalford had died suddenly at the age of 39, his party has confirmed.

Colleagues paid tribute to the “very articulate” MLA member, who was considered a rising star in Northern Irish politics.

DUP politician Christopher Stalford has died aged 39

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DUP politician Christopher Stalford has died aged 39Credit: PA

The south Belfast representative and father-of-four died suddenly over the weekend.

Mr Stalford was elected as a Belfast councillor in 2005 to represent the Laganbank area and then, from 2014, represented the Balmoral area.

He was elected the High Sheriff of Belfast in 2010 and Deputy Lord Mayor of Belfast in 2013.

In 2016, Mr Stalford was elected to represent Belfast South in the Northern Ireland Assembly.

And from January 2020 he served as the principal deputy speaker of the Assembly.

DUP leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson said: “We are absolutely devastated to have received the news this morning that our dear friend and much loved colleague, Christopher Stalford, had passed away.”

“Christopher had the capacity to reach out across the political divide and he was someone who wasn’t afraid to do the heavy lifting and to push the boundaries and to try and make Northern Ireland a better place for all of us,” he added.

Sir Jeffrey added: “I’ve no doubt that one day Christopher would have been the Speaker of the Northern Ireland Assembly, something that would have made him immensely proud, given the very humble background that he came from.

“Christopher was very articulate, he made some fine speeches in the Assembly.

RISING STAR

Mr Stalford has been involved with the DUP since he graduated from Queen’s University in Belfast.

He went to work in former DUP member Jim Allister’s European office three days a week, and in Peter Weir’s Bangor office.

He then moved to the DUP press office for six years, and went on to the policy unit.

In 2005, he was elected to Belfast City Council aged 22, the youngest person on the council.

He ran for the Northern Ireland Assembly in 2007 but did not get elected, and was re-elected to the council in 2011 and 2014.

The young politician then got elected to the Assembly and had been working as an MLA in South Belfast for the last six years.

Christopher and his wife, Laura, a former dental nurse, have four children: Trinity, Oliver, Cameron and Abigail.

DUP chairman, Lord Morrow, said: “I’ve known Christopher since his childhood. His family have been faithful members of the party from its foundation.

“As a party, we are shocked and saddened by his death but most of all we are heartbroken for Laura, their four little children and Christopher’s wider family who will feel this loss most keenly.

“He was a committed unionist and was always destined to be an elected representative because he had a heart for the people, public service and making Northern Ireland better.

“We ask that Christopher’s family are given privacy and space to grieve.”

Christopher - pictured with First Minister Arlene Foster - was considered a rising star of Northern Irish politics

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Christopher – pictured with First Minister Arlene Foster – was considered a rising star of Northern Irish politicsCredit: Pacemaker
The MLA member - pictured with his mother Karen and wife Laura - was described as someone who was 'very articulate' and had a great sense of humour

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The MLA member – pictured with his mother Karen and wife Laura – was described as someone who was ‘very articulate’ and had a great sense of humourCredit: PA
Members from across Irish and Northern Irish politics are said to be 'devastated' by the sudden loss

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Members from across Irish and Northern Irish politics are said to be ‘devastated’ by the sudden lossCredit: PA



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