DUP assembly member George Dawson has died following a short illness.
George Dawson was a DUP assembly member in East Antrim
Mr Dawson, who was 45, died at home on Monday evening. He leaves a wife and two children.
The East Antrim MLA, who was also grand master of the Independent Orange Order, had been tipped as a possible future minister in a power-sharing executive.
Paying tribute to Mr Dawson, DUP leader Ian Paisley said: "It is with immense sadness that I learned of the passing of our esteemed friend and colleague."
Mr Paisley said Mr Dawson's "contribution to the DUP assembly party was second to none and will be sorely missed".
"As member of the assembly for East Antrim, he worked tirelessly for his constituents, reaching out across his many spheres in the best interests of the people of Northern Ireland," he continued.
"His contribution to the business life of the province marked him out as a real ambassador."