I was saddened to hear of the passing of former North Down Alderman Susan O’Brien. Susan and I were both first elected to North Down Council in 1981 and she served the people of Holywood for 24 years with great distinction.
Even before she was elected to the Council she had a record of working in the community, with local charities and was a long-standing fundraiser for Mencap.
She first became involved in the Peace People and later became a founder member of the Alliance party. She was a loyal and hardworking member totally committed to working for peace and reconciliation.
Susan was an extremely active Councillor being particularly interested in community work and housing. She built up a reputation for her sterling constituency work and badgering agencies on behalf of her constituents. As a result, she was widely respected among all sections of the Holywood people who regularly returned her near the top of the poll
In 1995 she had the distinction to be the first Catholic to be elected as Mayor of North Down a role she performed with great dignity.
Her contribution to the people of Holywood was recognised in 2006 when she was awarded the MBE in the New Years Honours list.
Having worked with Susan for 25 years I was always amazed at her ability to combine her role as a successful local politician, with her family responsibilities including caring for her son who has learning disabilities and her job as a nurse in the Ulster Hospital.
On her retirement she continued to work in the community driving her elderly neighbours into town to collect their pensions, to the hairdressers, or to doctors and hospital appointments as well as sorting out problems in the local community.
In recent years her health had deteriorated particularly after the passing of her beloved husband Patsy in 2011.
My thoughts and prayers go to Susan’s family and I know she will be fondly missed by all her friends throughout North Down and further afield