Leading loyalist William ‘Plum’ Smith dies aged 62
Former UVF and Red Hand Commando paramilitary imprisoned during Troubles
William ‘Plum’ Smith died in hospital after a short illnes. Photograph: Robin Kirk/Flickr
A former leading loyalist paramilitary who played a key role in the peace process has died.
William “Plum” Smith died in hospital after a short illness. He was 62.
He was central to the process which brought the historic step of the Combined Loyalist Military Command ceasefire in 1994, chairing the press conference that announced the move.
Mr Smith later went on to become part of the loyalist political delegation that helped negotiate the landmark Belfast Agreement in 1998.
He was a former chairman of the Progressive Unionist Party (PUP), which has a close alignment with the UVF.
Former PUP leader Brian Ervine described Mr Smith as a “very intelligent” man.
“I’m just very, very sorry,” he said. “I found him a very decent human being, and I found him a very forward-thinking human being and he will be a loss, certainly to the Progressive Unionist Party and the loyalist community.
“He was a clear thinker, he was left-of-centre politically, he had a heart for ordinary people, for working-class people, he tried to provide a voice, a voice which had been neglected.”
Mr Ervine told Radio Ulster: “He was also happy enough to stretch over the fence and do business with traditional enemies.”