those of you who follow northern ireland politics will know that david ervine died yesterday after falling suddenly ill. you can read a great deal about his life, his politics, and his contribution to conflict resolution here, which cannot be underestimated. for now, i would like simply to add a few comments of my own. david ervine was the only local politician i ever met of whom i could say i had consistently honest and genuinely friendly conversations. he had definitively changed paths from paramilitarism to non-violence, and was utterly unfazed by the temptation to 'spin' everything in public life. what you saw was what you got. he could take a joke at his own expense, he would go the extra mile to get things done for you, and he did not consider it beneath him to ask me for a lift home after he had once spoken at an event i chaired. of all our public representatives, he was one of the most human, and his contribution may well be irreplaceable. may his family be comforted, and may he rest in peace.