In 1998, this future leader of the Progressive Unionist Party began serving the Belfast East constituency in the Northern Ireland Assembly. In 1994, he helped orchestrate his country's loyalist ceasefire.
He dropped out of high school at age fourteen and was later arrested for his involvement in an Ulster Volunteer Force bombing plot. While serving a prison sentence, he began to rethink the direction of his life and came to the conclusion that change could be more effectively accomplished through political action than through violence.
He died in his early fifties, having suffered a heart attack, a brain hemorrhage, and a stroke.
One of five children born to Elizabeth and Walter Ervine, he was raised in a Protestant household in Belfast, Northern Ireland. His marriage to Jeanette Cunningham produced sons named Mark and Owen.
Ervine's fellow Northern Ireland Assembly member, Tom Elliott, led the Northern Irish Ulster Unionist Party in the early 2000s.