Thousands turn out for Ervine funeral.


The funeral service for Progressive Unionist leader David Ervine is taking place in East Belfast.

Nationalist and unionist politicians are among those at the Methodist Mission on the Newtownards Road, where the service is to take place.

Mr Ervine, 53, died on Monday after a heart attack.

A PA system is relaying the service to the hundreds of people lining the Newtownards Road to say goodbye to the popular politician.

Secretary of State Peter Hain, SDLP leader Mark Durkan, Ulster Unionist leader Sir Reg Empey, Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams, East Belfast DUP MP Peter Robinson and Lord Trimble are among those attending the service.

Representatives of the Irish government are also there, including TD Liz O'Donnell, who worked closely with Mr Ervine when she was a junior minister during the negotiations which led to the Good Friday Agreement.

His elder brother Brian told mourners that he was proud of his brother and described him as a man who wanted to "translate the bloodstained tragic prose of violence and hatred to the poetry of peaceful co-existence".

"He had the guts and the courage to climb out of the traditional trenches, meet the enemy in no-man's land and play ball with him," he said.

Secretary of State Peter Hain told mourners that Mr Ervine had been held in respect by British ministers and was a "bruiser" for peace.

"He earned huge respect because he knew you can't rewrite history and he didn't try," he said.

David Ervine
PUP leader had been an assembly member for East Belfast since 1998
The assembly member, who was married with two sons, became the leader of the PUP in 2002 after replacing Belfast councillor Hugh Smyth.

On Tuesday, the Northern Ireland Assembly adjourned for half an hour in his memory.

Former US senator George Mitchell was among the politicians who praised Mr Ervine, who had helped broker the 1994 loyalist paramilitary ceasefire.

Tributes were also paid by Prime Minister Tony Blair, Taoiseach Bertie Ahern, the UUP, DUP, Sinn Fein, Alliance, SDLP and his own PUP.

The PUP leader had been an assembly member for East Belfast since 1998 and also represented the Pottinger area in Belfast City Council.

Minister Gary Mason said Mr Ervine was a man of "honesty and integrity" and who had "universal appeal".

"We are not calling this a funeral service. We are calling this a celebration of the life of David Ervine and that will be the theme throughout it," he said.

Part of the lower Newtownards Road is closed due to the funeral - between Templemore Avenue and the Albertbridge Road between 1145 and 1345.

So even Gerry turned out but Martin was probably too busy...

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