Video: Orange guard of honour for PUP’s Hugh Smyth

The Orange Order formed a guard of honour for member and former PUP leader Hugh Smyth at his funeral on Friday.

Led by a lone piper, hundreds of mourners followed the cortege as it made its way along the Shankill Road with hundreds more people lining the footpaths.

Hugh Smyth's funeral cortege in west Belfast

Hugh Smyth's funeral cortege in west Belfast

Mr Smyth, who died on Monday aged 75, served the Court ward on Belfast City Council for 41 years before standing down in December last year due to ill health.

Among the Orange Order brethren flanking the coffin was North Belfast MP Nigel Dodds.

A former Lord Mayor, Mr Smyth was the leader of the PUP until 2002 when he was succeeded by David Ervine.

Current party leader Billy Hutchinson took over Cllr Smyth’s vacated council seat. He described his colleague was “a giant of working-class loyalism” who was loved by the people of the Shankill area.

“‎Hugh made a monumental contribution to the political process in Northern Ireland over the course of the last 40 years. He was a staunch and proud unionist and a pioneer of working-class politics,” Mr Hutchinson said.

“Hugh was fundamental to bringing the loyalist community to the negotiating table and played a central role in strengthening Northern Ireland’s position with the United Kingdom,” and “showed great courage in carrying out his work throughout the years,” Mr Hutchinson said.

Shops along the Shankill Road closed during Friday’s funeral as a mark of respect.

The Orange Order guard of honour for the cortege also included DUP MLA William Humphrey and DUP councillor Brian Kingston.

A service in St Anne’s Cathedral followed the private service in Mr Smyth’s family home.

First Minister Peter Robinson described Mr Smyth as someone who “worked tirelessly” for his constituents.

“All those who worked with Hugh will know that his death represents the loss of a strong-willed and independently-minded representative who served the people of Belfast, and particularly the Shankill, for many years,” Mr Robinson said.

The Sinn Fein leader on Belfast City Council also paid tribute to the PUP veteran following his death.

Councillor Jim McVeigh said: “While we may not have always agreed politically we got on well and Hugh was a man who wouldn’t pass you without saying hello.”

He was buried at Roselawn Cemetery following the service at St Anne’s.

A life-long Shankill Road resident, Mr Smyth is survived by his wife of 43 years, Ellen.