Dawn Purvis

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Dawn Purvis
Member of the Northern Ireland Assembly
for Belfast East
In office
7 March 2007 – May 2011
Preceded byDavid Ervine
Succeeded byJudith Cochrane (Alliance)
Leader of the
Progressive Unionist Party
In office
23 January 2007 – 2 June 2010
Preceded byDavid Ervine
Succeeded byJohn Kyle (acting)
Personal details
Born (1966-10-22) 22 October 1966 (age 52) [1]
Donegall Pass, Belfast
Political partyIndependent
Other political
PUP (till 2010)
WebsiteOfficial website

Dawn Purvis (born 1967) is a former Independent Unionist member of the Northern Ireland Assembly. She was previously the leader of the Progressive Unionist Party (PUP) until she resigned in 2010. She lost her seat in the Assembly in the 2011 election.


Born in the Donegall Pass area of Belfast, Purvis joined the PUP in 1994.[2] She stood for the party in the 1996 Northern Ireland Forum election in Belfast South[3] and then in the 1998 Northern Ireland Assembly election in Belfast South, here taking only 271 votes.[4] She is now the director of the Marie Stopes clinic in Belfast.[5] In November 2014 Bernadette Smyth, founder of the Precious Life organisation, was found guilty of the harassment of Purvis,[6] but the verdict was later quashed.[7]

Political career[edit]

Constituency office of Dawn Purvis as independent MLA, Holywood Road, Belfast, April 2011

By 1999, Purvis was the PUP's Spokesperson on Women's Affairs.[8] She took a degree in Women's Studies, Social Policy and Social Anthropology and began working full-time for the party.[9]

Purvis stood in Belfast South in the 2001 UK general election, finishing in sixth place with a total of 1112 votes (2.9%).[10]

In 2006, Purvis was appointed to the Northern Ireland Policing Board. Her appointment was later criticised by the Democratic Unionist Party, because of the PUP's links with the paramilitary Ulster Volunteer Force UVF.[2]

In January 2007, Purvis succeeded the late David Ervine as leader of the PUP and MLA for Belfast East. Commenting on her new role she said:

I am deeply honoured to have been made the leader of the PUP. However this is also tinged with sadness given the huge loss of David. It is a huge challenge to step into this role, especially after the good work he did. But this gives us an opportunity to rebuild and continue to serve working class loyalists and unionist communities.[11]

In her maiden speech in the Assembly she said "As long as there is poverty, and as long as there is inequality in education, health and gender, it will be my duty to articulate the needs of the working and workless classes in East Belfast."[citation needed]

She was re-elected in the constituency at the Assembly election held on 7 March 2007, on the tenth and final round of counting.[12]

Resignation from PUP[edit]

In June 2010, Purvis resigned as leader, and as a member, of the PUP because of its relationship with the UVF and the murder of Bobby Moffet which was attributed to that group by the Independent Monitoring Commission.[13][14][15]

Electoral defeat[edit]

In the 2011 Assembly election Purvis defended her seat as an independent candidate with PUP leader Brian Ervine running against her. In the end neither candidate was elected and instead the Alliance Party of Northern Ireland gained a second East Belfast seat.[16]


  1. ^ [1]
  2. ^ a b "A new Dawn for the PUP[permanent dead link]", Belfast Telegraph
  3. ^ PUP bids to win Chinese vote", Belfast Telegraph
  4. ^ "CAIN Web Service: Assembly Election (NI) Thursday 25 June 1998". Cain.ulst.ac.uk. 1998-06-25. Retrieved 2012-09-29.
  5. ^ "Belfast Telegraph Friday 12 October 2012". belfasttelegraph.co.uk. 2012-10-12. Archived from the original on 2012-10-12. Retrieved 2012-11-01.
  6. ^ Anti-abortion protester Bernadette Smyth guilty of harassing Dawn Purvis (November 2014) [2]
  7. ^ "Bernadette Smyth wins harassment appeal". UTV. Archived from the original on 24 July 2015. Retrieved 9 May 2016.
  8. ^ Eamonn McCann, "Choice the PUP must make ... and soon", Belfast Telegraph
  9. ^ "Education", Belfast Telegraph
  10. ^ The Guardian. "Ms Dawn Purvis". London. Archived from the original on 2013-04-20. Retrieved 2007-03-09.
  11. ^ 4NI.co.uk News (2007-01-23). "Dawn Purvis chosen as PUP leader". Retrieved 2007-03-09.
  12. ^ RTÉ (2007-03-09). "Northern Ireland Elections 2007 – Belfast East". RTÉ News. Archived from the original on 10 March 2007. Retrieved 2007-03-09.
  13. ^ "Purvis quits PUP over murder of loyalist Moffett". BBC News. 2010-06-03. Retrieved 2012-09-29.
  14. ^ "PremiumSale.com Premium Domains". Independentmonitoringcommission.org. Archived from the original on 3 October 2010. Retrieved 2012-09-29.
  15. ^ McDonald, Henry (3 June 2010). "The Guardian – Ulster loyalist Dawn Purvis resigns from party over UVF killing". The Guardian. London: The Guardian. Retrieved August 30, 2012.
  16. ^ "Northern Ireland Assembly elections: East Belfast results", Belfast Telegraph, 7 May 2011

External links[edit]

Northern Ireland Assembly
Preceded by
David Ervine
MLA for Belfast East
Succeeded by
Judith Cochrane
Political offices
Preceded by
David Ervine
Leader of the Progressive Unionist Party
Succeeded by
John Kyle (Acting)