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Last Updated: Wednesday, 17 January 2007, 15:24 GMT
Ervine's wife moved by tributes
Mr Ervine's wife Jeanette at the coffin of her husband
Mr Ervine's wife Jeanette at the coffin of her husband
The widow of the late PUP leader David Ervine has said the family have taken great comfort from the outpouring of sympathy following his death.

Speaking on Radio Ulster's Talkback programme, Jeanette Ervine said his funeral in east Belfast last week had been a wonderful celebration of his life.

A cross-section of politicians, including Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams, attended the service in the Methodist Mission on the Newtownards Road.

Hundreds of others crowded onto the streets outside the church, where the service was relayed over a public address system.

"I don't think anyone else could have done it, only him - he crossed the divide and brought people together and I was so proud of him," Jeanette said.

In the aftermath of her husband's death following a heart attack, the family found themselves thrust into the spotlight Mr Ervine had previously occupied.

Gerry Adams comforted Mr Ervine's widow Jeanette
I thought he was very brave in doing that - coming into a Protestant heartland, he could never have known the reception he would have received
Jeanette Ervine
On Gerry Adams attending the funeral
However, Jeanette said they took comfort from all the callers and cards, including Mass cards, expressing sympathy for the family.

In many cases when people stopped her to praise her husband for his work they were preaching to the converted.

"People stopping and saying what they thought of him, the man, and I could have said 'yes I already knew that, I knew the man - I knew what he was'," she said.

She said that she hoped the advances made during her husband's political career would continue.

"We have made strides, and there's still more work to be done," she said.

"I think for David it would be very significant if they were to continue and make this a better place a better future, for the children and work hard at it and make it happen."

One of their sons, Mark, said that what the family wanted was for the display of goodwill shown at the funeral to be harnessed and help build a "true peace".

David Ervine
David Ervine became Progressive Unionist leader in 2002
"Make most people in this wee small country's dream come true - a true peace, a peace for everybody and not just for some," he said.

"I think that they now have an opportunity to do that and it would be my father's greatest wish that that would happen."

He said that the loyalist people of east Belfast had also shown their character by allowing people from the other community to pay their respects.

"When Gerry Adams left the church there was not a word, not a sound, the people from that community respected that Gerry Adams was able to come and pay his respects, and they respected the man for doing it, I think," he said.

Jeanette said that on that day, implacable opposites had come together under one roof to share the family's grief and she praise Mr Adams for attending.

"I thought he was very brave in doing that - coming into a Protestant heartland, he could never have known the reception he would have received," she said.

"I thought that was great generosity of spirit.

"He did it I imagine without thinking of himself, out of respect for David and to sympathise with his family and I thought that was really big of him."

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