Towards a Respectful Future report launched

The DUP, UUP and PUP groups on Belfast City Council launched the Towards a Respectful Future document this morning in Belfast City Hall. The Councillors present were Lee Reynolds, John Kyle, Billy Hutchinson, George Dorrian and Jim Rodgers. The full report is available here but some of the key findings were •The vast majority of bonfires and associated activities are well organised and managed. These include events which are part of and separate from the Belfast City Council Bonfire and … Read more

Picks of the Week – Gay Liberation, Blindboy does Belfast and Unexpected Intersections

“Belfast. What a place to find your liberation, eh? Bloody Belfast!” said Englishman Kevin in True North’s brilliant documentary, Out of the Shadows, this week. He was talking about his experience as part of group of gay men who were instrumental in getting homosexuality decriminalised here in 1982 (15 years after England and Wales). This was gorgeous piece of film-making. About hiddenness, of course. In a highly conservative religious society. About the internal damage that judgement and shame can wreak. … Read more


William Ennis, an east Belfast loyalist and PUP member, pays tribute to sex worker, rights campaigner and activist, Laura Lee. It was just before midnight when my phone rang. It was a dear friend. As soon as she spoke, I knew something was wrong.  Her voice was broken, and she demanded to know if I was seated. I assured her I was. “Laura’s gone”, she wept. “Laura’s gone.” My voice simply failed me, and I could only listen to her sobs. When I finally could make a sound, I … Read more

Reform and Review of the Agreement is Possible – Let’s Have It

Councillor Julie-Anne Corr-Johnston, from the Progressive Unionist Party, explains the thinking behind their ‘Review and Reform’ document, published yesterday. This week the Progressive Unionist Party has published and distributed, to the Secretary of State and Northern Ireland’s political leaders, its proposals for review and reform of the institutions set out within the Good Friday Agreement. The document, which can be read in full here:, sets out our rationale for enabling a review. It cites strand one, subsection thirty-six, which reads; … Read more

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.

Even watching Glentoran didn’t help!

Councillor John Kyle (PUP)

William Ennis is a member of the Progressive Unionist Party It’s probably one of those feelings which can’t really be described, such a burning disappointment that even tears seem pointless. I recall meeting a friend of mine who was an Alliance party activist in town the day after Gavin Robinson’s victory over Naomi Long. He smiled, we chatted, we had a beer, but I instantly recognised the mask he was wearing, the guy was actually a shell. This Progressive Unionist … Read more

Belfast City Council votes for a 1.48% increase

belfast city council logo

Belfast City Council tonight has agreed for the first time in four years to increase district rates by 1.48%. The council has for years made efficiencies of £20 million since 2006 and has set a target of £2 million a year for until 2019. The council says that the effect on ratepayers will be small arguing that on average the increase represents; 33p per month more for a terraced house. 50p for a three bedroom semi-detached house. £1.12p for four … Read more

My Ireland, the Union, and the Ervine test

NATIONALIST DEAD END: I recently had a robust exchange with a gentleman who had become quite impressed by the Scottish Nationalist Party. He argued that the onus was on unionism to now tender a counter attack.
I was, I must confess, quite annoyed at this proposed challenge. My gut instinct was that holding the incumbent position meant that one’s opponent had the work to do. But soon after this discussion an image entered my head. It was the image of the late David Ervine the Loyalist paramilitary prisoner and one time leader of the Progressive Unionist Party. Ervine is stood flanked by fellow unionists at an outdoor press gathering. It was in the 1990’s as the peace process was first finding its unsteady feet. Ervine coolly leaned forward toward the microphone and said, “Let the debate begin. We’re ready.” It was an inspiring statement despite its simplicity. It was succinct and strong. It was a challenge issued by a man who could not possibly have been more confident. This was a man thoroughly at peace with who he was, and what he wanted to say.

Stormont House: A Progressive Unionist Alternative

PROGRESSIVE ALTERNATIVE: Lowering Corporation Tax is not the magic wand which many believe it to be, argues PUP Cllr Julie Anne Corr-Jonnson. How many will invest the tax cut in nice holidays and better cars as opposed to the creation of new jobs? There are no sanctions, no prohibitions and no guarantees.

Soapbox: Is it time to consider giving Loyalists special group rights?

LEVELLING UP: Sophie Long argues that we should equip Loyalists with the necessary power and resources to compete as equal participants in Northern Irish politics. She advocates the fairly radical step of implementing special group rights, not only in order for Loyalism to flourish, but as a matter of justice for minority groups.

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

Corr-Johnston: What we need is Robin Hood when all we have is Prince John.

Corporation Tax dominated the headlines in 2014, writing for Slugger the PUP Cllr for Oldpark, Julie Ann Corr-Johnston argues for a rethink of the entire debate Corporation tax will probably go over the heads of many in our community, but it has the potential of bringing 50-60,000 jobs into Northern Ireland over the coming years-Peter Robinson If Peter Robinson was Prince John in the 1973 Disney cartoon version of Robin Hood, I wonder which of his DUP buddies would be … Read more

Dear Mr Prime Minister come to take a walk with me

Writing for the first time on Slugger is recently married PUP Belfast City Cllr Julie-Anne Corr Johnston One of the major local headlines last week was that British Prime Minister David Cameron and Irish Taoiseach Enda Kenny had “cleared their diaries” to lend their support to the inter-party talks at Stormont. It seems that no Stormont talks are complete without a crisis intervention from a Prime Minister, President, or some other person of note. We all remember Sir Reg Empey receiving … 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

The Nasty Face Of Nationalism

A PERSONAL VIEW by Derec Thompson Derec Thompson is a self-employed web designer originally from Belfast who now lives in Cambuslang just outside Glasgow. He was recently involved as a campaigner for a Yes outcome in the Scottish independence referendum and has consequently joined the Scottish National Party. Follow Derec on Twitter   I’ve just emerged from the first political campaign I’ve ever been involved in. The Scottish independence referendum campaign has possibly been the longest in living memory. As … Read more

@LADFLEG: “We are pro-Union and pro Loyalist”

Last week I sat down with two of the brains behind Loyalists Against Democracy (LAD), Billy and Ron. I was interested to catch up with the guys since we last spoke in February about the group’s foundation and how they approach certain issues. This time, however, I was interested to speak to them about some of the issues that they group has been involved in since we spoke, namely; the departure of Winston Smith, Pastor McConnell and where does LAD … Read more

So, you want to be a Cllr? Here’s some social media do’s and don’ts.

This round of local elections were interesting for me as I watched in January my twitter feed being swamped with tweets of election hopefuls announcing their candidacy for the various wards in the upcoming election. Ever since the election of Barack Obama in 2008, candidates have looked to social media to promote themselves and their issues. Now, the impact of this is debatable, I think that for local government elections, social media is a nice stocking filler for candidates. It … Read more

UPDATE- Jamie Bryson-A rebel without a hope?

You might think I don’t have better things to do with my time but alas this evening I ventured out to conduct my second interview with Jamie Bryson. I was surprised when he contacted me saying he wanted to talk to me again, as our first encounter led him to be generally criticised but I thought with his attempts to fundraise and Billy Hutchinson’s recent comments about him it was worth another go. I began the interview by asking him … 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