Belfast Telegraph

Video: Funeral held for leading loyalist William 'Plum' Smith

By Gary Grattan

Hundreds of people turned out on Belfast's Shankill Road today for the funeral of leading loyalist William 'Plum' Smith.

Mr Smith, who was 62, had been a UVF prisoner in the 1970s but went on to become a leading member of the Progressive Unionist Party and was instrumental in formulating their strategy in the peace process.

He was a member of the panel when loyalists announced their own ceasefire in October 1994, six weeks after the IRA had announced their own cessation of violence.

Speaking at the service in St Matthew's Church of Ireland, Mr Smith's niece Mandy McDermott said: "He continued to work tirelessly to spread his message and help others to understand and learn from his experiences.

"He got young people to learn and understand the impact of The Troubles, building relationships on the journey towards peace."

Jim Wilson, himself a former loyalist prisoner who now works as a community worker in east Belfast, said Mr Smith's commitment to loyalism during The Troubles was "massive."

But he said he went on to be "an architect of peace" and played a major role in formulating the PUP's peace strategy in the move away from conflict.

He said the fact that several Sinn Fein members had turned up to pay their respects to Mr Smith before the funeral showed the esteem in which he was held across the city.

"He put out the hand of friendship at a time when many others didn't," he said.

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