Politicians need to release civic society to find solutions, argues Sophie Long

Civic society in Northern Ireland could produce answers to the big problems we face, but is blocked by politicians who don’t want creative solutions, argues Sophie Long in the latest ‘Forward Together’ interview.  Sophie is a former Assembly candidate for the Progressive Unionist Party and a Queen’s University graduate, whose doctoral thesis was ‘An Investigation into Ulster Loyalism and the Politics of Misrecognition’. She works as Northern Ireland grants officer for a major charity. Strengthening civic society in Northern Ireland …

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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.

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 …

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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 …

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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 …

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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. …

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PUP conference preview

On Saturday, the Progressive Unionist Party will hold their annual conference. It’s been a year of change for the PUP. In the May elections, neither the PUP’s leader Brian Ervine nor independent Dawn Purvis won a seat in the Assembly. Instead the East Belfast loyalist mantle seemed to pass across to Sammy Douglas, who had been approached by and agreed to stand for the DUP. In the local government election, both PUP councillors retained their seats with John Kyle in …

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Catching up with Brian Ervine

headshot of Brian Ervine

Brian Ervine emerged as the Progressive Unionist Party’s leader last year after Dawn Purvis quit in the aftermath of UVF members’ involvement in the murder of Bobby Moffett. I caught up with Brian in the PUP’s Newtownards Road office on Thursday afternoon. Serving in the shadow of his brother – and physically, sitting under a photo of David Ervine – he talked about his political beliefs, party policy, election hopes, and was happy to discuss the PUP’s relationship with the …

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