DUP councillor John Finlay: ‘I have only three months to live - I will keep serving’

Ballymoney DUP councillor John Finlay says he hopes to keep serving his constituents, despite being given some three months to live with terminal cancer.

Mr Finlay, who has been a councillor for 24 years with Ballymoney and now Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council, was given the “devastating” news on Tuesday.

Speaking to the News Letter yesterday he reflected on his life in politics and how he would spend the remaining months of his life.

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”I have really enjoyed local government, and even more than the council and committee meetings and all that goes on, I have enjoyed working for the people of Ballymoney,” he said.

DUP councillor John Finlay (right), who has had a terminal cancer diagnosis, with DUP MP Ian Paisley at Ballymoney Twelfth celebrations. Picture Steven McAuley/McAuley Multimedia

“They are an absolute pleasure to represent and I have done my best – worked as hard as I can – to ensure they got what they needed.”

He first had bowel cancer removed in 2020.

He took Covid soon after which disrupted plans for follow-up chemotherapy, but then in 2021 he got the bad news the cancer was back but this time in his stomach.

On Tuesday he saw his oncologist. “I asked her if I had six months and she said, ‘No I think you have two or three but it can’t be written in stone because you never know’.”

His wife Linda and two daughters, Naomi and Rebekah, thought he would live much longer.

“But I knew in myself that I wasn’t well. But one thing that has remained strong with me in all that time, my faith in Jesus Christ. Only for that I would not be able to cope as I am; the doctors told me I will have four or five good weeks and then I will go downhill.

“I am not worried about all that, just about my two daughters – aged 27 and 24 – and my wife, who is still a young woman, but who will be left without a husband.

“But I have had a respectable life, I have enjoyed politics and being in the DUP – the party has been good to me – and most of all I have enjoyed serving the people of Ballymoney.”

He plans to keep serving his constituents for as long as he can. “And I am going to try and have a couple of holiday breaks in Northern Ireland with my family. It just depends what I am able to do. My walking is very poor because I am so breathless.”

He added: “Looking back on my life I have made many mistakes. I have done things I ought not to have done. I can’t change that now.

“But when I meet my Lord, if he asks why I should get into heaven, I am going to say, ‘because Jesus shed his precious blood that I, a rebel sinner, might go free’.”