Progressive Unionist Party

Progressive Unionist Party

:"See Ulster Progressive Unionist Association, for the political group founded in 1938"Infobox_British_Political_Party
party_name = Progressive Unionist Party
party_articletitle = Progressive Unionist Party
leader = Dawn Purvis MLA | foundation = 1979
ideology = Ulster Loyalism, Unionism, Progressivism, Democratic Socialism
position = left-wing | international = "none"
european = "none"
europarl = "none"
colours = Red & Blue
headquarters = 299 Newtownards Road Belfast BT4 1AG Northern Ireland United Kingdom
website = []
The Progressive Unionist Party (PUP) is a small political party from Northern Ireland. They were 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) they are the left-wingFact|date=August 2008 party of unionism in Northern Ireland, with their main support base in the loyalist working class communities of Belfast.

Party Leaders

* Hugh Smyth - 1979 - 2002
* David Ervine - 2002 - 2007
* Dawn Purvis - 2007 - present


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 Hugh 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 tend to be more conservative in outlook.

Following an inter-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Force, in which four men were murdered by the UVF in Belfast, after which recognition of the UVF's ceasefire was withdrawn by the British government, the PUP debated ending its "special relationship" with the UVF but this was defeated in a closed vote at the party's annual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.

In March 2006, the Chairman of the PUP, Dawn Purvis, a research associate at the University of Ulster was appointed as an independent member of the Northern Ireland Policing Board.

The BBC reported on 13th May 2006 that PUP leader David Ervine was set to join the Ulster Unionist Party grouping in the Northern Ireland Assembly, a move which was expected to give Unionists an extra ministerial position [ [ Row as Ervine joins UUP grouping] BBC News (May 2006)] , however this was deemed against the rules of the Assembly [ [ UUP-PUP link 'against the rules'] BBC News (Sept 2006)] .

It was reported on the 8 January 2007 that David Ervine died in hospital after suffering a heart attack. At a meeting of the party's East Belfast association on 18 January, Dawn Purvis was selected to contest East Belfast in the forthcoming 2007 Assembly election.

At a meeting of the PUP executive on 22 January 2007 Dawn Purvis was chosen as the new party leader, the first woman to lead a unionist party in Northern Ireland [] . On 1 February 2007, Dr John Kyle, a local GP was co-opted on to Belfast City Council to fill the seat left vacant by David Ervine's death.

Assembly Elections, March 2007

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.

Retention of weapons, May 2007

On 3rd 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". He did not specify what activities or what was being resisted.

However, the arms decommissioning body has said this did not meet the requirements set out in government legislation. The Independent International Commission on Decommissioning 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".

ee also

* Northern Ireland Assembly
* Northern Ireland Assembly election, 1998
* Northern Ireland Assembly election, 2003
* Northern Ireland Assembly election, 2007


External links

* [ PUP Website]
* [ Dawn Purvis' Blog]
* [ PUP Policy Paper - Assembly Elections 2007]
* [ PUP Manifesto - Assembly Elections 2003 - "How long are you prepared to wait?"]

Previous logos of the Progressive Unionist Party

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