Tributes have been paid to former Lord Mayor of Belfast Ian Adamson who has died at the age of 74.

Dr Adamson worked as a medical doctor before entering elected politics in the 1980s as a member of the Ulster Unionist Party.

He served as lord mayor of Belfast in 1996/7, high sheriff in 2011 and was an Assembly member for the constituency of East Belfast from 1998 to 2003.

Dr Adamson was also known for his passion for culture and languages.

He founded the Ulster-Scots Language Society in 1992 and also spoke a number of other languages, including Irish.

Irish President Michael D Higgins said he felt “great sadness” upon hearing of the passing of Dr Adamson.

He described him as a “respected scholar and supporter of countless organisations that served to celebrate and protect our common heritage”.

“To those who had the pleasure of knowing him it was a privilege to call Ian Adamson friend,” he said.

“I will always be grateful for his visits to Aras an Uachtarain, our meetings in Belfast and elsewhere.

“His ethic of friendship was deep, and his support for dialogue over the past number of years, between communities, scholars, especially historians and linguistic scholars, was generous and unlimited.”

Tributes were also paid to Dr Adamson from politicians across Northern Ireland’s political spectrum, including the current Belfast Lord Mayor Deirdre Hargey, Democratic Unionist Assembly member Peter Weir, Sinn Fein Assembly member Mairtin O Muilleoir and Alliance Party leader Naomi Long.

Ulster Unionist Party leader Robin Swann said Dr Adamson made a “huge contribution to cultural and political life”.

“In addition to his political career he was a medical doctor and had a keen interest and provided a wealth of knowledge in the field of history, particularly local history and Ulster Scots, and was the author of numerous books and papers,” he said.

“He made a huge contribution to cultural and political life and will be greatly missed by his many colleagues and friends.”

Ulster Unionist Party chairman Lord Empey added: “Ian had a great sense of humour and dry wit.

“His flair for cultural issues particularly as they applied to the Ulster Scots tradition, were brought to life with his lectures and anecdotes.

“Those of us who were colleagues in the City Hall will miss him greatly.”