Dawn Purvis is a former member of the Northern Ireland Assembly representing East Belfast from 2007 to 2011.
Dawn was born 1966, growing up in the Donegall Pass area of South Belfast, she is divorced with two sons.
After attending Deramore School, her early career was in the health service before a career break. During this time, as well as raising a family, Dawn became actively involved in community development with a passion for community empowerment and working with children and young people. This period laid the foundation for Dawn’s future career in front line politics.
Joining the Progressive Unionist Party in 1994 after the Loyalist and Republican ceasefires, Dawn became actively involved in conflict transformation. She held various offices throughout her time with the party including Equality Officer, Party Chair, Talks Coordinator (1996-1998), Assembly Coordinator (1998-2004). Dawn was involved with various rounds of peace process negotiations before, during and after the Good Friday Agreement.
Dawn returned to education and to Queens University Belfast gaining BA First Class Honours in Sociology and Social Policy. This led to several academic projects including research work with the Universities of Ulster and Huddersfield from 2004-2006.
She was selected as an Independent member of the Northern Ireland Policing Board – serving from 2006 until her election in 2007.
After the death of PUP Leader David Ervine in January 2007, Dawn was appointed as his successor, following this, she was elected Party Leader and Assembly Member in her own right in March 2007. During her time as PUP Party Leader, Dawn continued to increase her reputation as a compassionate politician raising the profile of the PUP and the party’s activism in peace-building. She continued to be involved in conflict transformation work, supporting community relations, integrated education and other peace building initiatives. During this time loyalist paramilitaries declared an end to their armed activities and decommissioned their weapons.
In the aftermath of the murder of Bobby Moffett in May 2010, Dawn resigned her position as Party Leader as well as her membership of the PUP. Dawn remained in the Assembly as an Independent until the Assembly Election of May 2011.
Trustee – David Ervine Foundation
The David Ervine Foundation is an independent charitable Fund in celebration of the life and aspirations of David Ervine. The aim of the foundation is to enable disadvantaged children and young people to reach their full potential through educational and training opportunities. See www.davidervine.com
Director – Healing through Remembering
Healing Through Remembering is an extensive cross-community project made up of a range of individual members holding different political perspectives working on a common goal of how to deal with the legacy of the past as it relates to the conflict in and about Northern Ireland. As a member of the Truth Recovery and Acknowledgement sub-group Dawn has contributed to the many publications including “Making Peace With The Past: Options For Truth Recovery In Northern Ireland”. See www.healingthroughremembering.org
Vice Chair of EPIC (Ex-Prisoners Interpretive Centre)
EPIC has been operational since 1995, although its origins go back considerably longer. Initially, its primary objective was to address the problems surrounding the reintegration of politically motivated prisoners into the community and in particular those prisoners from an Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) or Red Hand Commando (RHC) background. Through the study of other conflicts throughout the world, it is recognised the importance of successfully reintegrating former combatants in terms of consolidating the peace. While successful reintegration of ex-combatants in itself makes a significant contribution to peace-building, EPIC have, through a wide range of activities made a much wider contribution to peace building in Northern Ireland. Examples of these activities are as follows:
Creating opportunities for ex- combatants and others to engage in dialogue with adversaries (humanizing and de-stereotyping.)
Youth intervention (using the experience of former prisoners/combatants to influence youth to channel energies towards non-violent methods of resolving conflict.)
Assisting former UVF/RHC activists to contribute positively and non-violently to their communities.
Resolution of interface violence by lines of communication with Republican activists.
International study visits to other regions in post conflict and building of relationships with academic institutions in the field of conflict resolution.
Assisting UVF/RHC in the process of transformation.
Provision of Welfare Rights Advice service to both ex-prisoners and the wider community.
Director of Intercomm
Intercomm was founded in 1995 as a direct response to grassroots community concerns about inter-community conflict and social deprivation in north Belfast. Through a diverse range of programmes Intercomm assists in combating the social, economic and political problems created by 30 years of conflict and help construct a concrete and viable peace. Intercomm has broadened its initiatives and outlook in recent years so as to learn from, and assist in, other conflict transformation processes worldwide, using local knowledge and expertise. See www.intercommireland.org