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Last Updated: Monday, 8 January 2007, 20:37 GMT
Reaction to PUP leader's death
David Ervine
David Ervine was a force for change within loyalism
Leading political figures have been giving their reaction to the death of Progressive Unionist Party leader David Ervine - a key figure in brokering the loyalist ceasefire of 1994.

Mr Ervine, 53, died on Monday after suffering a heart attack at his home on Sunday.

PROGRESSIVE UNIONIST PARTY STATEMENT

"He turned no one away and worked tirelessly to achieve his best.

"Loyalism has lost its most articulate spokesperson.

"Unionism has lost the most progressive voice of this generation.

"Politics has lost a statesman. Our peace process has lost its most optimistic advocate and Ulster has lost a devoted son."

PRIME MINISTER TONY BLAIR

"David was a man who, whatever his past, played a major part in this last 10 years in trying to bring peace to Ulster.

Tony Blair
Tony Blair praised Mr Ervine's incisive wit

"His incisive wit and clear if often controversial analysis of Northern Ireland politics marked him out.

"Brought up in sectarian politics, he ended up being a persistent and intelligent persuader for cross-community partnership and he will be sorely missed."

IRISH TAOISEACH BERTIE AHERN

"I was greatly saddened to learn of the death of David Ervine.

Bertie Ahern
Bertie Ahern said Mr Ervice was a courageous politician

"David Ervine was a courageous politician who sought to channel the energies of loyalism in a positive political direction.

"He was an enormously valuable and important voice for his community. He was a passionate defender of the most disadvantaged in society and not solely those in his own constituency in East Belfast.

SECRETARY OF STATE PETER HAIN

"He wanted to solve problems not simply restate them, always looking for a way forward.

Peter Hain
Peter Hain said David Ervine wanted to solve problems

"He had grown away from the past and worked tirelessly to make Northern Ireland a better place.

"His loss will be keenly felt within loyalism. He gave loyalists a voice and influence at the highest level and he was crucial in taking loyalism along the often difficult path to a lasting peace."

ULSTER UNIONIST PARTY LEADER SIR REG EMPEY

"Northern Ireland has today lost a unique, charismatic and uncharacteristically spin-free politician. I have known David for many years, initially at Belfast City Hall then at the assembly.

Sir Reg Empey
Sir Reg said Mr Ervine was passionate about his culture

"David was always passionate about East Belfast, its people and his culture and heritage.

"He realised that violence belonged in the past and was keen to play his part in helping loyalists make the transition towards exclusively peaceful and democratic means."

EAST BELFAST DUP MP PETER ROBINSON

"David had always been an able, energetic and committed representative eager to improve the lives of his constituents especially those who were disadvantaged or underprivileged.

Peter Robinson
Peter Robinson said Mr Ervine wanted to see a new era

"He was a staunch defender of the interests of East Belfast and even those who saw politics from a different angle of vision would openly acknowledge that he genuinely wanted to see a new era of peace and stability in Northern Ireland and sought to use his role as an elected representative to work towards that goal."

SINN FEIN LEADER GERRY ADAMS

"David Ervine played a key role within loyalism throughout the development of the peace process.

Gerry Adams
Gerry Adams extended his condolences to Mr Ervine's family

"He made a valuable and important contribution to moving our society away from conflict.

"I was shocked when I heard the news that David Ervine had been taken ill and died suddenly.

"On behalf of Sinn Fein I would wish to extend my condolences to his family, friends and party colleagues at this difficult time."

SDLP LEADER MARK DURKAN

"David Ervine was a great character and he always showed real character. This news is a tragedy.

Mark Durkan
Mark Durkan said Mr Ervine showed real character

"All of us who knew him are deeply shocked. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family at this time.

"David emerged from a paramilitary past to pursue a peaceful future. Throughout the talks he played a positive role and worked always to keep loyalism onboard for the Good Friday Agreement.

"He also championed a more constructive unionism and argued that we can all gain from political accommodation."

UNITED STATES SPECIAL ENVOY, MITCHELL REISS

"I greatly admired David's transformation over the years into an unflinching advocate for a peaceful and political solution in Northern Ireland, and came to value highly his wise counsel.

Mitchell Reiss
Mitchell Reiss said he admired Mr Ervine's transformation

"He played a critical role in charting a new and more hopeful course for the people of Northern Ireland.

"His leadership, candor and wit will be greatly missed. On behalf of the United States government I extend my deepest sympathies to David's wife and his family."

ALLIANCE LEADER DAVID FORD

David Ford
David Ford said Mr Ervine's passion for progress will be missed

"His personal passion for progress will be missed. He played a pivotal role in turning loyalism away from violence.

"David was someone who clearly demonstrated that somebody who had a past could change and become a positive influence for the future."

PETER BUNTING, IRISH CONGRESS OF TRADES UNIONS

"David Ervine was one of the finest and bravest of his generation.

"His journey would have been an inspiration to more people in a fairer world, but that it inspired at least some to embrace change and progressive politics over the easy temptations of sectarianism was and is a giant monument to the man's decency and intelligence and his basic humanity.

"He never lost his anger, though, but he directed his rage towards the injustices that keep so many people across our society ignorant and powerless."




VIDEO AND AUDIO NEWS
Politicians pay tribute to David Ervine





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