TRIBUTES have been paid to a former local authority chief executive who has died at the age of 68.

Bernard Devine was the first person to take up the position at North Ayrshire Council after transferring from the old authority, Cunninghame District Council, in 1995.

Mr Devine, who started his career as a solicitor with Airdrie Burgh, was the council's most senior officer for 18 years and one of Scotland's longest-serving chief executives when he retired in 2004.

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He was widowed in 2006, is survived by two sons, James, Kenneth and a daughter, Susan. His elder daughter died at the age of 29 some years ago.

Labour Group Leader Councillor Peter McNamara, who was elected to Cunninghame District Council in 1988, recalls a "gentleman" who cared passionately about local government.

"I will never forget the help that Bernard gave me, and all new councillors, in those early days.

"Bernard was a quiet, unassuming man but he was very diligent in carrying out his duties as chief executive. It was a joy to work with him - and his wife Alice.''

Elma Murray, chief executive at North Ayrshire Council for five years, said: "I have very fond memories of him. He was someone that I was able to learn a lot from."

Council leader Willie Gibson said Bernard was a respected figurehead who was always fair with people.