Billy Hutchinson

Billy Hutchinson

Billy Hutchinson was a leading member of the Progressive Unionist Party in Northern Ireland. He was elected to Belfast City Council in 1997 and to the Northern Ireland Assembly in 1998 However he lost his assembly seat in 2003 and his council seat in 2005.

A former member of the Ulster Volunteer Force, Hutchinson was sentenced to life in Long Kesh for the murder of two Catholic men on the Falls Road in 1974 and, whilst there, became a close associate of Gusty Spence, the then UVF leader who would go on to play the leading role in the UVF ceasefire of 1994 and the resulting emergence of the PUP. In 1997 he was nominated by the UVF as their point of contact with John de Chastelain on the issue of decommissioning arms.

As the leading PUP representative on the Shankill, Hutchinson became embroiled in the loyalist feud between Johnny Adair's 'C' Company and the UVF and was subjected to a pipe bomb attack on September 11 2000, before being arrested the same day for allegedly obstructing the Royal Ulster Constabulary during an attempt to search him.

Hutchinson has often stressed the importance of the working class nature of loyalism and has argued in favour of socialism, although other socialists have criticized the exclusionary nature of his ideas, arguing that it does not constitute true socialism as it only applies to one community. [Eamonn McCann, [ 'Why are Loyalists Killing Each Other?'] from Socialist Workers Party site] He is also an atheist. [ [ 'Our flag stays red, white and blue?'] from Socialist Review]

In October 2007 Hutchinson was arrested in connection with the murder of Catholic teenager Thomas Devlin. A protest followed outside the police station in which he was being held although ultimately Hutchinson was released without charge. [ [ 'Hutchinson released from custody'] from The News Letter]

Hutchinson published his autobiography, "Hard Man, Honourable Man: My Loyalist Life", in 2003.


External links

* [ PUP Website]
* [ Dawn Purvis' Blog]

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