William ‘Plum’ Smith, one of the key figures when loyalists announced their historic 1994 ceasefire, has died.
The 62-year-old loyalist and former Red Hand Commando played a leading role in the peace process.
He was jailed in the 1970s for 10 years for the shooting of a Catholic.
In 1994, Smith chaired the news conference at which the ceasefire of the Combined Loyalist Military Command was announced.
That came six weeks after the IRA’s announcement of its ceasefire.
He was later part of the PUP delegation for the talks leading to the Good Friday Agreement.
Former PUP leader Brian Ervine paid tribute to the party’s former chairman on the BBC this morning.
He said: “William was at the forefront of negotiating and bringing loyalist paramilitaries into the peace process and politicising the UVF and Red Hand Commando.
“He was a very intelligent fellow. He educated himself in Long Kesh and he also took Irish classes there. He called the Irish language ‘his own’.”