TRIBUTES to Darren Duncan, one of Northern Ireland’s finest solicitors and ‘one of life’s good guys’, have been paid following his death.

The well-known and much respected 48 year-old Bangor man was a partner with the law firm McConnell Kelly and a service of thanksgiving for his life will be held in West Presbyterian Church, Rathmore Road, on Monday (7th) at 11.30am.

The devoted father, husband, son and brother passed away peacefully at the Marie Curie Centre last Friday after a short illness which he ‘bravely’ bore with ‘courage and fortitude’.

Members of Mr Duncan’s family attended a special sitting of Ards Magistrates’ Court on Monday as representatives of the legal community gathered to pay tribute to their friend and colleague.

A passionate and compassionate legal advocate, Mr Duncan had a big heart for the community in which he lived and the generations of families he represented. His expertise shone in the courtroom and with his sharp legal mind and in-depth knowledge of his client’s circumstances, he set the bar high.

Leading the tributes barrister Michael McAleer said he will be sorely missed by all whose lives he touched.

“He genuinely was one of life’s good guys,”said Mr McAleer.

Educated at Holywood’s Sullivan Upper School before graduating with a law degree in Dublin in 1996, Mr Duncan was admitted to the roll of solicitors in 2000. He practised at Trevor Smyth & Co and Higgins Hollywood Deazley (HHD) before joining McConnell Kelly in 2003.

He was accredited as an advanced advocate, allowing him to represent clients at the highest level both in the Magistrates Court and the Crown Court.

Mr McAleer said he had been enjoyed a 30-year friendship with Mr Duncan after first meeting at university in 1993. He said: “Without risk of challenge he was a solicitor of the highest character, he was liked and respected by all who had dealings with him.”

He said there were ‘many strings to Darren Duncan’s bow’ and as a criminal defence solicitor he ‘commanded the highest respect and regard from his colleagues both in the prosecution and defence alike’.

Mr McAleer said his friend conducted his family life in the same ‘conscientious and honourable way in which he practised law’ and his death was a ‘body blow to them’.

On behalf of The Bar of Northern Ireland, Mr McAleer passed on his condolences to Mr Duncan’s family saying ‘heavy is the cross of bereavement’.

He said if those gathered together ‘left this place today and live our lives by Darren Duncan’s example, our worlds will be greater and the world would be a better place’.

Deputy District Judge Philip Mateer described Mr Duncan as ‘one of the leading solicitors not only in Newtownards but in Northern Ireland’ and said his passing was a ‘great loss’.

He said his ‘integrity was beyond question’ as was his ability as a solicitor.

“Many present will have known Darren personally and over many years as a friend and a colleague and can testify to his strength of character and true professional,” he said.

The judge said the court staff had asked to be associated with his remarks and he passed on his sincere condolences to Mr Duncan’s family, friends and colleagues.  

Mr Duncan is survived by his wife Nicola, children Jack and Sophie, parents Richard and Vivian and siblings Ian and Gillian. He was brother in law of Jane, Ian, Andrew and Fiona and uncle of Callum, Harry, Maddie and Hugo.