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Text and Research: Brendan Lynn ... Edited and Compiled: Martin Melaugh
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Surname: A B C D E F G H I J K L M Mc N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

| Empey | Ervine |

Empey, ('Reg') Reginald (b. 26 October 1947)
Politician; Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) MLA; Executive Minister November 1999 - October 2002

Reg Empey was educated at Hillcrest Preparatory School, Belfast, the Royal School, Armagh, and Queen's University of Belfast where he was later to graduate from the Faculty of Economics with a B.Sc. Empey then pursued a business career and worked for the Goodyear International Corporation in its industrial rubber products division, House of Fraser/Switzer and Company, and retailer McMahon and Company, before in 1986 he established his own retail clothing business. He first became involved in politics in the late 1960s joining the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) and serving for a time as Vice-Chairman of the Young Unionist Council. With the fragmentation of unionism in the early 1970s Empey joined the Vanguard Unionist Progressive Party (VUPP). The VUPP was established by former members of the UUP who had grown disillusioned with the direction the party had taken in the wake of the rise of the civil rights movement in Northern Ireland. In 1975 he was appointed Chairman of the VUPP and in the elections to the Constitutional Convention in May 1975 Empey was returned as one of the party's representatives for the constituency of East Belfast (1975-76).

In 1977 after internal differences the VUUP split with some of its members, like Empey, leaving to form the United Ulster Unionist Party (UUUP). From 1977-84 he served as Deputy Leader of the UUUP and in the Northern Ireland Assembly election in October 1982 unsuccessfully stood for it in East Belfast. The party's poor electoral showing on that occasion was its last involvement in electoral politics and within a short period of time it had ceased to exist. After its demise Empey soon returned to politics and at the local government elections of May 1985 he was elected to Belfast City Council as a member of the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) (1985-present). In his time on the council he has twice served as Lord Mayor of the city in 1989-90 and 1993-94. As well he was also a member of the UUP's negotiating team at the 1991-92 all-party talks.

In 1996 Empey was elected to the Northern Ireland Forum for East Belfast (1996-98) and over the next two years was to emerge as one of his party's key negotiator at the multi-party talks that were to finally produce in April 1998 the Good Friday Agreement (GFA). At the subsequent referendum campaign in May he actively campaigned for a 'Yes' vote and a few weeks later in June 1998 was returned to the new Northern Ireland Assembly (1998-present), once again representing the constituency of East Belfast. As a key ally of David Trimble, then leader of the UUP, he has been at the forefront of the various discussions aimed at having the GFA implemented in full. Empey has also been a prominent defender of the approach taken by his leader in the face of internal party criticism and in particular over the decision to participate in a power sharing Executive with Sinn Fein without complete PIRA decommissioning. With the establishment Executive in November 1999 he was appointed as Minister of Enterprise, Trade and Investment (1999-2002)and held this post until the suspension of the institutions of the GFA in October 2002. In addition for a period following the resignation of Trimble as First Minister in late June 2001 Empey also took over this role on a temporary basis (1 July 2001 - 6 November 2001).

Book References:
Elliott, Sydney. and Flackes, W.D. (1999), Northern Ireland: A Political Directory 1968-1999. Belfast: Blackstaff Press.
Hennessey, Thomas. (2000), The Northern Ireland Peace Process: Ending the Troubles? London: Gill & Macmillan.
Web Sources:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/northern_ireland/1412118.stm
http://www.politicallinks.co.uk/POLITICS2/BIOG/NI_BIOGS/bio.asp?id=11032
http://www.ni-assembly.gov.uk/members/biogs/rempey.htm
http://www.stratagem-ni.org/
[Entry written 12 November 2002]


Ervine, David (b. 21 July 1953)
Politician; Loyalist Activist; Leader of the Progressive Unionist Party (PUP) 2002-present

David Ervine was born in a working class area of Belfast and was educated at Orangefields Boys' Secondary School but left at the age of fifteen with few formal qualifications. With the outbreak of civil unrest in Northern Ireland in the early 1970s he became involved with loyalist paramilitaries and joined the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF). In 1974 he was arrested and found guilty on the charge of possessing explosives and served six years in prison before being released in 1980. During this spell of imprisonment he fell under the influence of a fellow prisoner, Gusty Spence, who was anxious to encourage loyalists to develop some sort of a political strategy. On leaving prison in 1980 Ervine decided to follow this path and became associated with the Progressive Unionist Party (PUP) which had been established to give a political voice to the UVF. He stood unsuccessfully for the party at the local government elections of 1985.

The PUP was to remain on the fringe of Northern Ireland politics until the announcement of a loyalist paramilitary ceasefire in October 1994. From this point on it was regarded as representing the views of the UVF and as such Ervine came to prominence as one of its leading spokesman. At the local government elections of May 1997 he was elected as a member of Belfast City Council (1997-present). A year earlier he had been elected to the Northern Ireland Forum in May 1996 and with the PUP now involved in the multi-party talks that eventually followed in late 1997, he was one of the party's delegates in the ensuing negotiations. When these culminated in April 1998 with the Good Friday Agreement (GFA) the PUP signed up to what had been agreed. In spite of the unease of many within the unionist community, Ervine and his party colleagues campaigned for a 'Yes' vote in the referendum of May 1998. A month later in June 1998 he was returned as a member for East Belfast in the new Northern Ireland Assembly (1998-present) and since then has continued to support the GFA as the best means to secure Northern Ireland's constitutional position with the rest of Great Britain. In April 2002 he was chosen to become the new Leader of the PUP.

Book References:
Elliott, Sydney. and Flackes, W.D. (1999), Northern Ireland: A Political Directory 1968-1999. Belfast: Blackstaff Press.
Garland, Roy. (2001), Gusty Spence. Belfast: Blackstaff Press.
Sinterton, Henry. (2002), David Ervine. Dublin: Brandon.
Web Sources:
http://www.ni-assembly.gov.uk/members/biogs/dervine.htm
http://www.politicallinks.co.uk/POLITICS2/BIOG/NI_BIOGS/bio.asp?id=11033
http://www.stratagem-ni.org/
http://news.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/static/northern_ireland/understanding/profiles/david_ervine.stm
http://www.pup-ni.org.uk/
[Entry written 12 November 2002]


Notes:
The information has been compiled from numerous primary and secondary sources.
The best general sources for additional information are:
  • Elliott, Sydney. and Flackes, W.D. (1999), Northern Ireland: A Political Directory, 1968-1999. Belfast: Blackstaff Press.
  • McRedmond, Louis. (ed.) (1998), Modern Irish Lives: Dictionary of 20th-century Biography. Dublin: Gill & Macmillan.
  • Ramsden, John. (ed.) (2002), The Oxford Companion to Twentieth-Century British Politics. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
    For related and background information see also:
  • The list of acronyms associated with 'the Troubles'
  • The glossary of terms related to the conflict
  • The abstracts on prominent organisations
  • The chronology of the conflict

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