Ervine's party to choose new leader

The Progressive Unionist Party in the North is to choose a new leader next week.

The Progressive Unionist Party in the North is to choose a new leader next week.

The party’s executive will meet on Monday to decide who will replace East Belfast Assembly member David Ervine, who died last week aged 53.

Northern Ireland Police Board member Dawn Purvis, who was chosen by the party last night to defend Mr Ervine’s seat at the next Stormont election scheduled for March, was being tipped as a frontrunner for the post.

East Belfast PUP members also chose John Kyle to replace Mr Ervine on Belfast city council.

It is expected that Dr Kyle will be co-opted on to the council rather than a fresh by-election taking place.

The PUP executive will also on Monday night be asked to ratify the East Belfast association’s choices for Assembly candidate and for the city council.

The Electoral Office is also expected to announce soon who will be the substitute for David Ervine in the Assembly.

Whoever takes his place will have the shortest term of any Assembly member, with Northern Secretary Peter Hain due to dissolve Stormont on January 30 ahead of the election and under the St Andrews power sharing plan.

Another possible leadership candidate would be former North Belfast Assembly member Billy Hutchinson.

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