PUP leader Ervine dies in hospital.
Mr Ervine, who suffered a heart attack, a stroke and brain haemorrhage, was 53 and had been on a life support machine for 24 hours.
The PUP chief was a central figure in securing the 1994 loyalist paramilitary ceasefire.
His wife Jeanette and two sons were by his bedside when he died at the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast.
Ken Wilkinson, one of his closest political associates, said he was devastated by his party leader's death.
Mr Wilkinson said: "I don't think Northern Ireland realises the sacrifices this man made."
Mr Ervine led the PUP, which is aligned to the loyalist paramilitary Ulster Volunteer Force, since 2002.
Like some Sinn Fein representatives elected to the Stormont Parliament after the 1998 Good Friday Agreement, Mr Ervine moved into politics after being imprisoned for paramilitary crimes.
He served time in the Maze Prison near Lisburn, Co Antrim, after being arrested driving a car bomb in 1974.
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|Publication:||The Birmingham Post (England)|
|Date:||Jan 9, 2007|
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