PUP Conference receives internal and external advice on its image & reform – will it listen & act?

PARTY CONFERENCE season has started with the Progressive Unionist Party meeting at Corr’s Corner Hotel. Both internal and external voices critiqued the party’s perception problem and hinted at ways that it could addressed. The impact of women in the party continues to grow. Deputy leader John Kyle was honest about the disappointing election result. And party leader Billy Hutchinson called for progress on legacy issues, economic growth, welfare reform, and the persistence of poverty and deprivation.

Billy Hutchinson and the Development of the PUP

Billy Hutchinson speaking after taking over as PUP leader

Sophie Long is a PhD candidate in the School of Politics at Queens University. Writing for Slugger she shares her research about Billy Hutchinson and the development of the Progressive Unionist Party When political commentators discuss the Progressive Unionist Party in positive terms, it is often David Ervine, or Dawn Purvis, whose names are put forward by means of substantiating the Party’s progressive credentials. Ervine, who now possesses almost mythical status in Northern Ireland, and beyond, was described in The … Read more

PUP conference review – in favour of opposition; against welfare reform but critical of Sinn Féin

This year’s Progressive Unionist Party conference [party website down!] was held in the Dunsilly Hotel outside Antrim. About 80 delegates were present, around 40% were women, some of whom were obviously now making a big impact on party policy and direction. The audience seemed a little younger than previous years. It was good to see the party open to listening to critical friends during the panel discussion. In the morning Councillors Julie-Anne Corr and Russell Watton addressed conference and six … Read more

Forget ethnic thematics: a straightforward response to Billy Hutchinson

Billy Hutchinson’s explanation for his sectarian murders has been covered below by David McCann. Unfortunately they degenerate into concepts like “Truth recovery”, “ethnic thematics” and such like. The News Letter have provided somewhat more direct responses. From the News Letter: Kenny Donaldson of Innocent Victims United said that Mr Hutchinson’s attempted justification of his murders “bore all the hallmarks of the same sick delusional thinking that is prevalent within the republican movement”. Referring to the UVF slogan ‘For God and … Read more

Mr Hutchinson and Ethnic Thematics by Cillian McGrattan

This a guest post on Billy Hutchinson’s recent interview by Dr.Cillian McGrattan of the University of Ulster When it comes to dealing with the past, the PUP have often been seen as one of the more upfront political parties – that is, less inclined to indulge in ideological double-think, smug condescension or obfuscation about deeds, dates and motives. Billy Hutchinson’s Newsletter interview in which he claims that while he ‘wouldn’t try to justify’ his killing of two Catholics, ‘we’re not … Read more

PUP Conference encouraged to be self-critical; recognises another marginalised community & adopts pro-Equal Marriage policy

The PUP conference left Belfast this year and headed to Brownlow House in Lurgan. More motions, more members speaking up to propose or support those motions, more women, more men in suits and ties, more delegates than recent years with lots of new faces from the new Mid-Ulster branch. If was a conference that valued protest but was told to concentrate more on politics. Co-operation and cross-party dialogue was necessary to deliver solutions. PUP Belfast city councillor Dr John Kyle … Read more

More #Twaddell: DUP, dupes and duplicity.

The onus is now upon nationalism to show leadership and to respond positively to this genuine attempt to reach accommodation. They must face down the elements in their community who wish to drag Northern Ireland back. So says DUP ‘leader’ Peter Robinson, but presumably not in reference to his party members who were advocating burning tricolours, defacing religious statues, indulging in murder fantasies, okay with assaults on the mayor or happy to be seen at UVF parades. Robinson was actually … Read more

The PUL Community and the Peace Process: An Audit

The third session of the all day PSA/Fellowship of Messines workshop – Has the Protestant Working Class lost out in the Peace Process? – looked at the peace process through the eyes of two loyalist leaders and an academic. Strong views on the Social Investment Fund, how paramilitary actions gave unionists confidence in the peace process, loyalism being equated with criminality, loyalists’ sacrifices for peace, the tsunami of hate and bigotry that came out of the flag protests, and the … Read more

Billy Hutchinson: talking at rallies and protests doesn’t necessarily make you a leader

Billy Hutchinson – leader of the PUP – said during a workshop on Thursday that the media often used the word “loyalist” as a shortcut to mean “criminal”. He quoted the example of a DUP councillor up in court for some misdemeanour who was described in a newspaper as a “loyalist” rather than a “member of the DUP”. I asked him afterwards whether there is much the PUP can do to address the media’s perception of loyalism? One of the … Read more

PUP conference – Irish language, welfare reform, parading, Matt Baggott and the leader’s speech

Billy Hutchinson - newly elected as PUP leader

Today was Billy Hutchinson’s second conference as leader of the Progressive Unionist Party. His taking over the reins last year was seen as a last gasp attempt to keep the party open for business. The number of people attending the conference was up this year: I’d estimate a hundred people were in the Ramada Encore room, though not all had yet paid their party dues. The PUP seeks to give working class loyalists a voice. The big question for the … Read more

Round-up of the PUP conference (including audio from speeches)

Billy Hutchinson speaking after taking over as PUP leader

The Progressive Unionist Party’s annual conference was held on Saturday morning in the large conference room in City East this morning. About 60 people attended. This year exhibitors hadn’t been invited, curtailing a conference revenue stream, but also keeping the focus on party business. I’ve a theory that most party conferences are identifiable from a photo of the back of delegates’ heads. This morning’s conference was dominated by older men, though some younger people and some women were present. As … Read more

Billy Hutchinson is the new Progressive Unionist Party leader

Billy Hutchinson - newly elected as PUP leader

Billy Hutchinson was the only nomination for leadership and was elected unopposed at this morning’s Progressive Unionist Party conference held in East Belfast. You can watch his first interview as leader and hear his comments on what the PUP stand for, where the party is going and whether the PUP has the energy to go forward. Hutchinson spoke of the continued need to challenge criminality, repeating his mantra: You can’t be a criminal and a loyalist at the same time. … Read more