Dawn Purvis

Dawn Purvis
Dawn Purvis
Member of the Northern Ireland Assembly
for Belfast East
In office
7 March 2007 – May 2011
Preceded by David Ervine
Succeeded by Judith Cochrane (Alliance)
Leader of the
Progressive Unionist Party
In office
23 January 2007 – 2 June 2010
Preceded by David Ervine
Succeeded by John Kyle (Acting)
Personal details
Born 1967 (age 43–44)
Donegall Pass, Belfast
Political party Independent (previously PUP)
Website Official website

Dawn Purvis (born 1967) was an Independent Unionist member of the Northern Ireland Assembly. She was previously the leader of the Progressive Unionist Party (PUP) until she resigned in 2010. She lost her seat in the Assembly in the 2011 election.



Born in the Donegall Pass area of Belfast, Purvis joined the PUP in 1994.[1] She stood for the party in the 1996 Northern Ireland Forum election in Belfast South[2] and then in the 1998 Northern Ireland Assembly election in Belfast East, here taking only 271 votes.[3]

Political career

Constituency office of Dawn Purvis as independent MLA, Holywood Road, Belfast, April 2011

By 1999, Purvis was the PUP's Spokesperson on Women's Affairs.[4] She took a degree in Women's Studies, Social Policy and Social Anthropology and began working full time for the party.[5]

Purvis stood in Belfast South in the 2001 UK general election, finishing in sixth place with a total of 1112 votes (2.9%).[6]

In 2006, Purvis was appointed to the Northern Ireland Policing Board. Her appointment was later criticised by the Democratic Unionist Party, due to the PUP's links with the paramilitary Ulster Volunteer Force.[1]

In January 2007, Purvis succeeded the late David Ervine as leader of the PUP and MLA for Belfast East. Commenting on her new role she said:

I am deeply honoured to have been made the leader of the PUP. However this is also tinged with sadness given the huge loss of David. It is a huge challenge to step into this role, especially after the good work he did. But this gives us an opportunity to rebuild and continue to serve working class loyalists and unionist communities.[7]

In her maiden speech in the Assembly she said "As long as there is poverty, and as long as there is inequality in education, health and gender, it will be my duty to articulate the needs of the working and workless classes in East Belfast."[citation needed]

She was re-elected in the constituency at the Assembly election held on 7 March 2007, on the tenth and final round of counting.[8]

Resignation from PUP

In June 2010, Purvis resigned as leader, and as a member, of the PUP because of its relationship with the UVF and the murder of Bobby Moffet which was attributed to that group by the Independent Monitoring Commission.[9][10]

Electoral defeat

In the 2011 Assembly election Purvis defended her seat as an independent candidate with PUP leader Brian Ervine running against her. In the end neither candidate was elected and instead the Alliance Party of Northern Ireland gained a second East Belfast seat.[11]


External links

Northern Ireland Assembly
Preceded by
David Ervine
MLA for Belfast East
2007 - 2011
Succeeded by
Judith Cochrane
Political offices
Preceded by
David Ervine
Leader of the Progressive Unionist Party
2007 - 2010
Succeeded by
John Kyle (Acting)

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