Progressive Unionist Party
|Progressive Unionist Party|
|Headquarters||299 Newtownards Road, Belfast, BT4 1AG,
|Colours||Red & blue|
|Northern Irish seats in the House of Commons|
|European Parliament (Northern Irish seats)|
|Northern Ireland Assembly|
|Local government in Northern Ireland|
The Progressive Unionist Party (PUP) is a small unionist political party in Northern Ireland. It was formed from the Independent Unionist Group operating in the Shankill area of Belfast, becoming the PUP in 1979. Linked to the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF), it is the only left-wing party of unionism in Northern Ireland, with its main support base in the loyalist working-class communities of Belfast.3
- Hugh Smyth - 1979 - 2002
- David Ervine - 2002 - 2007
- Dawn Purvis - 2007 – 2010
- Brian Ervine - 2010 - 2011
- Billy Hutchinson - 2011 - date
The party has had a degree of electoral success. In 1994 PUP leader Hugh Smyth became Lord Mayor of Belfast, and in the 1996 elections to the Northern Ireland Forum they secured two seats, with Smyth and David Ervine both being elected. The PUP supported the Belfast Agreement and in the 1998 election to the Northern Ireland Assembly they also won two seats, with representatives Billy Hutchinson and David Ervine elected from the Belfast North and East constituencies respectively, though they proceeded to lose one in the 2003 election, leaving Ervine as their sole Assembly representative. This was followed by a poor showing in the Northern Ireland local election of 2005, where Smyth and Ervine were their only two members to retain their seats on local authorities, and the party now seems to be in a state of decline.
Their position on the left of the political spectrum differentiates them from the other unionist parties (such as the Ulster Unionist Party and the Democratic Unionist Party) which are ideologically conservative.citation needed
Following an intra-loyalist feud between the UVF and Loyalist Volunteer Force, in which four men were murdered by the UVF in Belfast, after which recognition of the UVF's ceasefire was withdrawn by the British government, the PUP debated ending its "special relationship" with the UVF but this was defeated in a closed vote at the party's annual conference in October 2005.
David Ervine died following a heart attack on 8 January 2007. On 22 January 2007 Dawn Purvis was chosen as party leader.4 She is the first woman to lead a unionist party in Northern Ireland with the exception of Anne Dickson's short-lived leadership of the Unionist Party of Northern Ireland after Brian Faulkner's retirement. Dr John Kyle was co-opted on to Belfast City Council to fill Ervine's seat. The party did not field any candidates for the 2010 general elections. Party members were encouraged vote for a candidate of their choice.
The election was for 108 seats spread evenly across 18 constituencies.
The PUP fielded 3 candidates: Elaine Martin in North Down, Andrew Park in Belfast South and Dawn Purvis in Belfast East. Overall the party polled 3,822 votes or 0.6% of the votes cast in Northern Ireland, down 0.6% from the Elections of 2003.
Dawn Purvis was elected to represent Belfast East polling 3,045 votes (10.3%), finishing 5th out of the 15 candidates.
On 3 May 2007 Gusty Spence read out the statement by the Ulster Volunteer Force announcing it will keep its weapons and a warning that activities could "provoke another generation of loyalists toward armed resistance".
However, the arms decommissioning body has said this did not meet the requirements set out in government legislation. The Independent International Commission on Decommissioning (IICD) urged the UVF to work with it to destroy its weaponry.
It said it welcomed the statement, but was "concerned by their intention to deal with their arms without the involvement of the IICD".
In 2009 the UVF fully decommissioned all their weapons under the supervision of the IICD.
In June 2010, Dawn Purvis resigned as leader, and as a member, of the party because of its relationship with the UVF and a recent murder attributed to that group.5 On 28 August 2010 the deputy leader, David Rose, resigned from the party. He cited the recent murder attributed to the UVF and his belief that the party was "becoming increasingly conservative in outlook.6
The election was for 108 seats spread evenly across 18 constituencies. The party failed to regain the East Belfast seat and are unrepresented in the Assembly. Leader Brian Ervine resigned soon after the election and was replaced by veteran west Belfast activist Billy Hutchinson in October 2011.8
Former UVF member Billy Giles, whose biography is told in the first chapter of journalist Peter Taylor's book Loyalists, having spent 14 years in the Maze Prison for a sectarian killing, was part of PUP's negotiating team at the Good Friday Agreement in April 1998.9 Others involved in this process included Billy Mitchell, Winston Churchill Rea William "Plum" Smythall former UVF members.
- Northern Ireland Assembly
- Northern Ireland Assembly election, 1998
- Northern Ireland Assembly election, 2003
- Northern Ireland Assembly election, 2007
- Northern Ireland Assembly election, 2011
- Edwards, Aaron (2007). "Democratic Socialism and Sectarianism: The Northern Ireland Labour Party and Progressive Unionist Party Compared". Politics 27 (1): 24–31. doi:10.1111/j.1467-9256.2007.00275.x.
- New Statesman: Volume 131, Issues 4569-4576. London: New Statesman. 2002. p. 56.
- "Progressive Unionist Party (PUP) - Your Questions". Pup-ni.org.uk. Retrieved 2010-06-15.dead link
- New PUP leader seeks Ervine seat, BBC News, 23 January 2007. Retrieved 2009-08-27.
- "Purvis quits PUP over murder of loyalist Moffett". BBC News. 2010-06-03. Retrieved 2010-06-15.
- "Leading PUP member, David Rose, quits party". BBC News. 2010-08-28. Retrieved 2010-09-01.
- Citation needed. Missing or empty
- Hutchinson elected PUP leader
- Taylor, Peter (1999). Loyalists. London: Bloomsbury. p.8
- PUP Manifesto - Assembly Elections 2003 - "How long are you prepared to wait?"
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