Hugh Smyth, PUP leader who asked loyalists to ‘give peace a chance’, dies at 73

Cross-party tributes following death of Progressive Unionist Party stalwart

The death of former leader of the Progressive Unionist Party Hugh Smyth has prompted cross-party expressions of condolences.

Mr Smyth (73), a former lord mayor of Belfast, served as a Belfast city councillor for 41 years, while in the 1990s he was a member of the Northern Ireland Forum and in the mid-1970s, a member of the Northern Ireland Convention.

He was first elected to the council in 1972 but stood down due to ill health in December last year. He was a supporter of the peace process and campaigned for a yes vote in the 1998 Belfast referendum. After the August 1994 IRA ceasefire he said it was time for loyalists to “give peace a chance”. In October that year loyalist paramilitaries including the UVF, which is linked to the PUP, announced their ceasefire. He was awarded an OBE in 1996.

He was succeeded as PUP leader in 2002 by the late David Ervine. Former PUP leader Dawn Purvis said Mr Smyth made a positive contribution to politics and would be sadly missed. First Minister Peter Robinson said he was a long- serving public representative who had always worked tirelessly on behalf of his constituents.

Gerry Moriarty

Gerry Moriarty

Gerry Moriarty is the former Northern editor of The Irish Times