Dawn Purvis resigns from the PUP…

I had a feeling something like this might happen. Dawn Purvis has resigned from the PUP in the wake of the UVF killing of last week. The historic link with the UVF had always been a limiting factor for the party, and its attempt to garner support for Councillor Dr John Kyle foundered on that particular rock. Barney Rowan reports in today’s Belfast Telegraph:

Ms Purvis has resigned both her membership and leadership of the PUP, and will continue in politics as an independent MLA. Her resignation will be viewed as a very public demonstration of disgust at last Friday’s shooting.

I’ve no doubt her team (who were earnest, hard working and devoted to her) are in shock over this development. But if you want a thumbnail gauge for just where the party’s insistence on keeping its paramilitary links (and keeping some kind of honest relationship with both its voters and the wider public) has landed it in the political world, here’s an earlier press release from yesterday:

“The PUP strongly supports the rights of all individuals who would like to express their grief over the killing of Bobby Moffett and support for the Moffett family to freely attend all funeral and memorial services without fear.

“The PUP unreservedly condemns the murder of Bobby Moffett and shares the outrage of Shankill residents over the manner in which this attack took place. People who would like to register a protest over the killing should be able to do so peacefully and lawfully.”

In a genuinely free society, none of these things should have to be said by a public representative to their own supporters and activists. Unsurprisingly in the end perhaps, Ms Purvis has taken the only route offered her by a party too determined to hold on to the old ways of the past.

And we’ve had yet another glimpse at the kinds of rent seeking and negative social equity that all paramilitaries (to a greater or lesser extent) impose upon their own communities.

In the meantime, as Eamonn reports on Twitter, Dr John Kyle is the interim leader of the PUP. Eamonn’s interview with Dawn Purvis is on Downtown after 8.30 this morning.

Update (08.36): Here’s Ms Purvis’s statement, having submitted her resignation in an emergency meeting of the PUP’s Executive Committee on Wednesday night, which was accepted.

“I make this decision with a very heavy heart.  I believe the Progressive Unionist Party was founded by individuals who had a real vision for Northern Ireland and a positive and important contribution to make to politics and the peace process in this country.  I have been honoured to be a part of that.”

“However, I can no longer offer leadership to a political party which is expected to answer for the indefensible actions of others. I will continue in my role of MLA as an independent member of the Assembly, representing the people of East Belfast.”

“It will be my objective, as it has always been, to bring to the Assembly specific policy ideas and proposals which will make Northern Ireland a place where there is equality of opportunity for all, and where the people of Northern Ireland can be proud to live, work, learn and play.”

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  • Comrade Stalin

    the Alliance Party stance on abortion I mean.

    Alliance does not have a “stance on abortion”. Neither do most UK political parties outside of NI. It is a consciousness issue left up to individual members and elected representatives.

    Personally I think it should be legal up to the first trimester, so I’d be slightly more conservative than the 1967 act allows. I know other Alliancers who would feel roughly the same way. I also know for sure that there are other Alliancers who are firmly opposed to abortion.

    Another similarity with the Lib-Dems.

    It’s a similarity with all the main UK political parties. Like I said, as far as I know, there are no major UK parties with an abortion policy except in Northern Ireland.

    it might shock some people to discover the the Alliance party is actually quite… conservative compared to that of their liberal sister parties.

    It would certainly come as a shock to me, especially given that Alliance are nominally to the left of the four largest parties on this matter.

  • Comrade Stalin

    I’m actually glad David ran for the TUV. Any time David stands for elected office, the party name he adopts crashes and burns.

  • fp veritas

    NO bye-elections for the House of Horrors on the hill

  • Scamallach

    Boom! Back of the net!

  • fp veritas

    Are you Mad

    Did you expect Empey Reg and Newtown to return telephone calls?

  • Granni Trixie

    I dont live in the north – a cheap shot. I simply say the north is not the place to be looking too closely at the’credentials, or the past of some of the politicians.

    The UVF are still active. No, you dont say!

    Have they found the murderers of Robert McCartney or Paul Quinn? Any sign of most of the missing £20 million?

    You may well be right about the reasons for Ms Purvis resignation. I am content to wait and see.

    I abhor violence of any kind and if it transpires Ms Purvis has finally had enough of trying to justify it – well done her.

    With regard to Heinz G. I too found myself in complete agreement with his reasons, even if I doubt the entirely pacifist credentials of the UU…

  • DC

    Firstly, the Labour party would be suitable for Northern Ireland.

  • DJ Horatio

    Set aside?


    When drawing seats in NI it’s likely you’d have an idea what way they’re going to go

    The man who drew the maps had intended the nationalists to get two seats in County Armagh, but miscalculated. However in Belfast there was one more nationalist seat than’s envisaged. So all’s fair.

    Any idea that Stormont seats we’re ‘gerrymandered’ is actually a misconception.

    My source of such info is internet psephologist and Labour supporting David Boothroyd. Sadly his section on the House of Commons of Northern Ireland has gone down the swanney but I’ll see if I can dig up anything on the google cache.

  • Granni Trixie

    From reading you posts to slugger i have come to respect your opinions, but I feel you went over the top with Pippakin. Firstly the fall out from the long war affected detrimentally not only people who lived in the north, but also those who lived in the south of Ireland and other parts of the UK. Thus we all have a right to have our say, wisdom and ignorance are not geographically based.

    Besides, I think you might agree, the more people engage with those beyond their own shore and worry about their plight, etc, the better for all. If there is one thing I have learn’t from e-lists like slugger, it is we can at times learn from people whose views are diametrically different from ones own. For christ sake I actually agreed with Turgon last week 😉

    End of lecture; all the best.


  • Danny

    How many councillors does the PUP currently have?

  • Stephen Blacker

    Dr. John Kyle and Hugh Smyth on Belfast City Conucil.

  • mickhall

    Its true I dont live in the north. Im approximately four hours away by car, though I have done it in three, but the bus, (you need to get 2 of them) takes the best part of all day, including stopping for lunch.

    I never even notice the border for me its just not there…

    I speak as a nationalist and as a nationalist Im prepared to reach out to everyone, regardless of their political persuasion. If that person is finally prepared to take the non violent route, so much the better and deserving of recognition. Surely if people are talking thats better than not. I probably have more in common with working class women, from both sides of the divide, than some other commenters on Slugger.

  • daisy

    I’m very surprised at the ‘love-in’ here too. She was the political representative of a paramilitary organisation which has engaged in criminal acts for however many years and suddenly we’re supposed to believe that she’s got a conscience? I don’t think she’ll be missed from the political landscape and sure she can always get a job as a ‘community representative’ if she falls at the next election.

  • daisy

    Dawn Purvis was the political representative of a paramilitary organisation which has engaged in political acts for many years..

    Yep, you’re right, but the Assembly would be a very lonely place if every members ‘affiliations’ were checked first…actually you can probably apply that to most of the two leading parties in the UK…

  • vanhelsing

    I’m with daisy on this one – regardless of who the UVF murdered or didn’t murder in the last few years it’s up to it’s neck in drug dealing and all manner of nasty things…

    DP represented those people with a political voice. Suddenly morality strikes home or a political opportunity?

  • daisy

    Listening on Radio Ulster this morning to some of those who attended last night’s vigil, they’re in a terrible place and she’s just removed herself from a party with links to the group responsible instead of removing the link and staying with the party to give the people a voice. She’s left them high and dry and, IMO, all for her own selfish interests. She’s not a proud defender of the working class.

  • Danny

    Stephen Blacker,

    Thanks. Did Billy Hutchinson lose his seat awhile back or did he simply move on to something different?

  • daisy

    As far as I know Dawn Purvis has not removed herself from the community she represents. She may be in a better position to help her community if she distances herself from one of the main causes of said community’s distress.

    On the surface her action is a principled one. I support that principle. If it transpires to be more self interest than not, that will become clear, and will be reflected in how successful, or not, her future career will be.

  • daisy

    If the UVF are still as bad as ever and remember its all about proof, not accusation, there may be some sort of action to curtail their activities. If there is it is long overdue, and perhaps an astute politician would be available to help pick up the pieces afterward. It would be no reason to dislike such a politician…

  • “Surely if people are talking thats better than not.”


    Indeed it is, as that old scoundrel Churchill once said, jaw, jaw, is better than war, war.

  • fitzjameshorse1745

    The “love in” does not surprise me. And my impression from reading a lot of posts over the past 24 hours is that it seems to surprise those of us who actually LIVE here less than it surprises those who live some distance away.
    The thing about the MEDIA is that it MEDIATES.
    It presents us with a version of FACT rather than FACT itself.
    The lesson for us all is…..that if we ever become a mouthpiece or spokesperson for an organisation, we should ensure that the Media are on our side.

  • Stephen Blacker

    Sorry Danny,

    Just saw your post, Mr. Hutchinson lost his seat as an MLA.

  • Stephen Blacker


    Dawn Purvis did give political voice to the UVF/RHC but on the condition that they move away from any forms of crime. Consistently this was thrown back in the PUP’s face with crime after crime and members of the PUP were more or less being blamed for these crimes by the media and others because of their connections.

    Knowing that in the big picture it was necessary to stay in contact with these groups to try and influence mindsets people like Dawn Purvis stuck in there. According to what Dawn has said over the last few days is that with all the time and effort given there is still some in authority within these groups that have no notion of changing their ways.

    I have no doubt that Dawn Purvis will continue to look after the interests of the people she has always tried to help but she can do it in the knowledge that she will not get the finger pointed at her by the media and others saying she is a moll or worse.

    This is not what some people are calling a “Love-in”, give credit where credit is due. Dawn and others like her stood up and took the most vile comments on the chin because they knew someone had to try and move things forward positively. In the main they have taken these groups to a better place with benefits for everyone.

    Maybe someday the link between the PUP and UVF/RHC will be broken but that is up to the PUP as a party and not just for its Leader, that would take time and that was something that Dawn Purvis did not have after the vicious murder of Mr. Moffett.

  • DC

    Alliance does not have a “stance on abortion”. Neither do most UK political parties outside of NI. It is a consciousness issue left up to individual members and elected representatives

    That would be useful save for the fact that people are not permitted to exercise their own will and conscience as access to abortion services is blocked, blocked as a result of local political activity.

    The costs associated with abortion counselling and abortion services are not prohibitively expensive so it ruins any rationale behind forcing those pregnant (against their better judgement) on a plane to Britain.

  • Mr. J

    Given that I and my family are East Belfast constituents, yes 🙂

  • Jay

    From wikipedia

    “On 16 June 1994, UVF members machine-gunned a pub in Loughinisland, County Down on the basis that its customers were watching the Republic of Ireland national football team playing in the World Cup on television and were therefore assumed to be Catholics. The gunmen shot dead six people and injured five”

    From PUP website :
    “Dawn is Leader of the Progressive Unionist Party, appointed by the Executive Committee after the death of David Ervine. She joined the party in 1994”

    So Dawn , its acceptable to kill as long as its Catholics?
    What is your point of view?
    Don’t shed your crocodile tears for anyone – it was a politically convenient to leave now and ride upon the wave of revulsion over this murder.

  • Stephen Blacker


    Please dont play games with sound bites. Maybe if you read my post above of Gusty Spence’s speech in 1977. It gives an idea of what the PUP is about.

    Cant imagine it would make any difference to your mindset but your post shouts out to me that you have no idea of what the PUP have been trying to do.

  • fp veritas

    You must accept that the MLA/S only respond to
    phone calls at election time any othertime you and others
    can “take a powder”

    Did you not contact Peter the punt?

    I suspect the DUP are the least likely to return your telephone call .That is one of the reason that you now have a new MP for Belfast East

  • Jay


    People laying dead on the streets and I’m playing games?

    I’m an ordinary NI tax paying citizen , its the politicians that have been playing games for decades.

    All I’m asking is that if its ok to join the PUP when Catholics are being murdered why is it ok to leave it when a Protestant is murdered?
    Murder is murder after all….

  • Nuance

    Jay, you’re quoting two entirely different contexts. One was before the paramilitary ceasefires, the other twelve years after the signing of the Good Friday Agreement. Murder is murder is murder, that much I agree to. But you can’t compare the two contexts.

    Let me put it another way, as you’re being a bit flippant and your suggestion that “it’s okay when it’s a Catholic but not when it’s a Protestant” is a touch absurd. Do you really think if the latest killing was a Catholic it would have made any difference to whether Dawn Purvis resigned? Of course not. To think otherwise, and to compare two incidents separated by 17 years, is to wilfully misunderstand the journey all political parties have taken in Northern Ireland over the last few decades.

  • Stephen Blacker


    You are correct, murder is murder, some people joined the PUP to try to stop the murders. The people I know in the PUP would not attempt to make any difference in a Catholic or Protestant murder.

  • jim

    when she applied for and got grants for bonfires in loyalist areas her n billy hutchision were celeberating the murder of catholics by leanord murphy esq. i seen her clapping hands at a mural being unvailed in his name its on tv.she seen how well yer woman from the alliance party done n shes jumping on the gravey train.bobby moffat was just the excuse she needed

  • slappymcgroundout

    Recall my statement a while back re some losing much with the passing of the late Mr. Ervine. Ms. Purvis’ problem is that her prior history doesn’t give her the same “credibility” that the late Mr. Ervine had with some. And so she can’t “control” and/or “persuade” some to the same extent that the late Mr. Ervine could.

    Lastly, Mr. Blacker, thank you for the excerpts from the letter from Gusty. Reminds me of the late Mr. Ervine’s description of his first encounter with Gusty in prison, to wit, Gusty to Dave: Do you know why you’re here? The material you posted rather answers that question. And explains why both humans ended up were they did.

    Almost forgot, but Jay, do watch Peter Taylor’s Loyalists series. You’ll hear the late Mr. Ervine say that the day of Loughinisland was the worst day of his life. Undoubtedly the same for Ms. Purvis.

    Sorry, but for another almost forgot, the world didn’t need Sha’ul of Tarsus, also called Paolo, out there killing some early Christians. Apparently, some can forgive Sha’ul but not the likes of Mr. Spence and Mr. Ervine. And for another freebie from the good book, simply recall that there is no sacrificial expiation for intentional sin (see Numbers 15) and so if you’re Christian, know why your Lord said, while undergoing execution by torture, Father forgive them, for they know not what they do (thereby declaring their sin to be unintentional and so capable of his sacrificial expiation, as it were). Maybe Mr. Vance could remember that the next time he’s in church.

  • fitzjameshorse1745

    No of course they are not Mr Bakers words.
    How could they be.
    Unless of course Mr Baker has left Sinn Féin or the Mafia. It seems unlikely he was a member of either.
    Im surprised that Mr Baker felt he needed to clarify that the quote was not from him.
    It is my observation that people who leave political parties…even after several years membership….Roy Jenkins, Sylvia Hermon, Jeffrey Donaldson, Gerry Fitt, Gerry McHugh…..say rather unkind things about their former Party and colleagues.
    Surely it would have been a surprise if Mr Ward had said something kind about his former Party.
    So “leaving Sinn Féin is like leaving the Mafia” seems to be in the Dog Bites Man category of News Value.
    Perish the thought that this was a quote that Mr Baker has seized upon to make a (political) point.
    Timing is of course everything. In explaining the Hobbesian reference to Dan Purvis leaving the PUP, Mr Baker informs us that he does not view Ms Purvis as “inherently selfish”.
    In Mr Fealtys “Dawn Purvis Resigns From PUP”, Mr Baker has not given us the benefit of his opinion.
    Perhaps Mr Ward, a councillor in Banbridge is a more important politician than Ms Purvis MLA and erstwhile Leader of her Party.
    A thought occurs. The PUP has been the mouthpiece for a criminal organisation not unlike the Mafia to the casual observer. With 29 killings since its own ceasefire, a new PUP leader saying he believes the UVF still has some weddings, police operating on the intelligence that last weeks murder victim was killed by members of the UVF and David McKitterick referring to UVFs “non lethal” criminality.
    So……if leaving Sinn Féin is “LIKE leaving the Mafia”……..a quote from Mr Ward, enthusiastically seized upon by Mr Baker…..how should we view Ms Purvis leaving the PUP. Whats that……LIKE?