Democratic Unionist Party: Wikis


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Democratic Unionist Party
Leader Peter Robinson MP MLA
Chairperson Lord Morrow MLA
Founded 30 September 1971
Headquarters 91 Dundela Avenue
Belfast, County Antrim,
Northern Ireland
Ideology British Unionism,
National conservatism,[1]
Social conservatism,[1]
Christianity (Protestant, Fundamentalist, Evangelical)[1]
Political position Right-wing,
European Parliament Group Non-Inscrits
Official colours Red, White and Blue
House of Commons
European Parliament
Northern Ireland Assembly
Local government in Northern Ireland
Politics of Northern Ireland
Political parties

The Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) is the larger of the two main unionist political parties in Northern Ireland. Founded by Ian Paisley and currently led by Peter Robinson, it is currently the largest party in the Northern Ireland Assembly and the fourth-largest party in the House of Commons of the United Kingdom. However, it came third in the European Parliament election 2009 in Northern Ireland, with its candidate elected after both Sinn Fein's candidate and the candidate of the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) and the Conservative Party. With respect to first-preference votes the DUP was second to Sinn Féin due to a three-way split unionist vote.[2] The DUP has strong links to Protestant churches, particularly the Free Presbyterian Church of Ulster, the church Ian Paisley founded, and is considered a Protestant political party.[3] The party has a youth wing at Queen's University Belfast under the name Democratic Unionist Association (DUA)[4] and also at the University of Ulster.[5]

Following on from the St Andrews Agreement in October 2006, the DUP has agreed with the Irish republican party Sinn Féin to enter into power-sharing devolved government in Northern Ireland. In the aftermath of the agreement there were reports of divisions within the DUP. Many of its leading members, including Members of Parliament (MPs) Nigel Dodds, David Simpson and Gregory Campbell were claimed to be in opposition to Paisley. All the party's MPs fully signed up to the manifesto for the 2007 Assembly elections, supporting power sharing in principle. An overwhelming majority of the party executive voted in favour of restoring devolution in a meeting in March 2007;[6] however, the DUP's sole Member of the European Parliament (MEP), Jim Allister,[7] and seven DUP councillors[8] later resigned from the party in opposition to its plans to share power with Sinn Féin. They founded the Traditional Unionist Voice in December 2007.[9]

The DUP is the largest party in Northern Ireland, currently holding 8 seats at Westminster and 36 seats in the Northern Ireland Assembly.



The party was established in 1971 by Ian Paisley and Desmond Boal and other members of the Protestant Unionist Party. Since its foundation it has won seats at local council, province, national and European level. It won eight seats in the Northern Ireland Assembly of 1973-1974, where it opposed the formation of a power-sharing executive made up of unionists and nationalists following the Sunningdale Agreement. The DUP were more radically unionist than the UUP. The establishment of this political party arguably stemmed from insecurities of the Protestant working class.[10] Paisley was elected one of Ireland's three European Parliament members at the first elections in 1979 and retained that seat in every European election until 2004. In 2004 Paisley was replaced as the DUP MEP by Jim Allister, who resigned from the party in 2007 while retaining his seat.[7]

The DUP also holds seats in the House of Commons of the United Kingdom, and has been elected to each of the Ireland conventions and assemblies set up since the party's creation. It has long been the principal rival to the other major unionist party, the Ulster Unionist Party (known for a time in the 1970s and 1980s as the Official Unionist Party (OUP) to distinguish it from the then multitude of other unionist parties, some set up by deposed former leaders). However, the DUP's main rivals are currently the Irish Republican Sinn Féin and the Irish nationalist Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP).[citation needed]

The DUP was originally involved in the negotiations under former United States Senator George J. Mitchell that led to the Belfast Agreement (also known as the Good Friday Agreement on account of the day on which it was signed). The party withdrew in protest when Sinn Féin, a republican party with ties to the Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA), was allowed to participate despite the IRA retaining weapons. The DUP opposed the Agreement in the referendum that followed its signing, and which saw the Agreement approved reasonably comfortably nonetheless.

The DUP fought the resulting election to the Northern Ireland Assembly and took two seats in the multi-party power-sharing executive but while serving as ministers refused to sit in at meetings of the Executive Committee (cabinet) in protest at Sinn Féin's participation.[citation needed] The Executive ultimately collapsed over an alleged IRA espionage ring at Stormont. (See Stormontgate).

In the delayed Northern Ireland Assembly election of 2003, the DUP became the largest political party in the region, with 30 seats. In 2004, it became the largest Ireland party at Westminster, with the defection of Jeffrey Donaldson. On 12 December 2004, English MP Andrew Hunter took the DUP whip, giving the party seven seats, in comparison to the UUP's five, Sinn Féin's four, and the SDLP's three.

In the 2005 general election, the party reinforced its position as the largest unionist party, winning nine seats, making it the fourth largest party in terms of seats in the British House of Commons behind Labour, the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats. In terms of votes, the DUP is the fourth largest party on the island of Ireland.

When this is compared to the Ireland local government elections (held on the same day as the Westminster General Election but under proportional representation), then the final figures would indicate that, had the Westminster General Election been on a Proportional Representation basis instead of the First-past-the-post system, the DUP would only have had six seats and the UUP and Sinn Féin four seats each. The SDLP would still have its three seats but there would have been another seat for an independent.

At the Local Government election of 2005, the DUP also emerged as the largest party at Local Government level with 182 Councillors across Northern Ireland's 26 District Councils.[11] The DUP currently has a majority of the members on both Castlereagh Borough Council, which has long been a DUP stronghold and is home to Party Leader Peter Robinson, also in Ballymena Borough Council, home to the party's founder Ian Paisley, and finally Ards Borough Council. As well as outright control on these councils, the DUP is also the largest party in eight of the other Councils. These are Antrim Borough Council, Ballymoney Borough Council, Banbridge District Council, Belfast City Council, Carrickfergus Borough Council, Coleraine Borough Council, Craigavon Borough Council and Newtownabbey Borough Council


Opposition to teaching evolution

In 2007, two DUP members raised the issue of creationism and intelligent design, questioning the availability of materials and resources for schools wishing to teach alternative theories to the evolution. Additionally, one of these members, MP David Simpson, asked for assurances that students who gave creationist answers to examination questions would not be marked lower for it. A spokesman for the DUP confirmed that these views are consistent with party policy.[12]

Party leadership

Northern Ireland Executive Ministers

Portfolio Name
First Minister Peter Robinson MP MLA
Junior Minister
at Office of the First Minister and deputy First Minister
Robin Newton MLA
Culture, Arts and Leisure Nelson McCausland MLA
Enterprise, Trade and Investment Arlene Foster MLA
Environment Edwin Poots MLA
Finance and Personnel Sammy Wilson MP MLA

Party spokespersons - Westminster

[citation needed]

Responsibility Spokesperson
Party Leader Peter Robinson MP MLA
Deputy Leader Nigel Dodds MP MLA
Defence, Culture, Media and Sport Gregory Campbell MP MLA
Education and Skills, Housing Sammy Wilson MP MLA
Environment, Food and Rural Affairs William McCrea MP MLA
Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, Europe Ian Paisley MP MLA
Health, Youth and Women
Home Affairs, Justice Peter Robinson MP MLA
Trade and Industry David Simpson MP MLA
Transport, International Development Jeffrey Donaldson MP MLA
Treasury, Work and Pensions, Shadow Leader of the House Nigel Dodds MP MLA

Party spokespersons - Assembly

Responsibility Spokesperson
Party Leader Peter Robinson MP MLA
Deputy Leader Nigel Dodds MP MLA
Agriculture and Rural Development William McCrea MP MLA
Culture, Arts and Leisure Gregory Campbell (politician) MLA
Education Mervyn Storey MLA
Employment and Learning Tom Buchanon MLA
Enterprise, Trade and Investment Peter Weir MLA
Environment Alastair Ross MLA
Finance and Personnel Ian Paisley Jnr MLA
Health, Social Services and Public Safety
Regional Development Michelle McIlveen
Social Development Simon Hamilton


Belfast Agreement

The 1998 Belfast Agreement was opposed by the Democratic Unionist Party. The opposition was based on a number of reasons, including:

  • The early release of political prisoners
  • The mechanism to allow Sinn Féin to hold Government office despite ongoing IRA activity.
  • The lack of accountability of Ministers within the Executive.
  • The lack of accountability of the North/South Ministerial Council and all-Ireland Implementation Bodies.

The Belfast Agreement relied on the support of a majority of unionists and a majority of nationalists in order for it to operate.[citation needed] During the 2003 Assembly Election, the DUP argued for a "fair deal" that could command the support of both unionists and nationalists. After the results of this election the DUP argued that support was no longer present within unionism for the Belfast Agreement. They then went on to publish their proposals for devolution in Ireland entitled Devolution Now.[16]

These proposals have been refined and re-stated in further policy documents including Moving on[17] and Facing Reality.[18]

The DUP has consistently held the view that any party which is linked to a terrorist organisation should not be eligible to hold Government office.[citation needed] The activities of the IRA and the other paramilitary groups have been monitored by the Independent Monitoring Commission.


Parliament of the United Kingdom

Members of the House of Commons:

Members of the House of Lords:

Northern Ireland Assembly

Members of the 2007 Northern Ireland Assembly:


On 11 April 2006, it was announced that three DUP members were to be elevated to the House of Lords: Maurice Morrow, Wallace Browne, the former Lord Mayor of Belfast, and Eileen Paisley, a vice-president of the DUP and wife of DUP Leader Ian Paisley. None, however, sit as DUP peers.

On 27 October 2006, the DUP issued a four page letter in the Belfast Telegraph newspaper asking the question "Are the terms of Saint Andrew's a basis of moving forward to devolution?", with responses to be received to its party headquarters by the 8 November. It was part of the party's overall direction of consultation with its electorate before entering a power-sharing assembly.[citation needed]

On 24 November 2006, Ian Paisley refused to nominate himself as First Minister of Northern Ireland designate. There was confusion between all parties whether he actually said that if Sinn Féin supported policing and the rule of law that he would nominate himself on 28 March 2007 after the Assembly elections on 7 March 2007. The Assembly meeting was brought to an abrupt end when they had to evacuate because of a security breach. Ian Paisley later released a statement through the press office stating that he did in fact imply that if Sinn Féin supported policing and the rule of law, he would go into power sharing with Sinn Féin. This was following a statement issued by 12 DUP MLAs stating that what Ian Paisley had said in the chamber could not be interpreted as a nomination.[19]

The DUP has recently suggested that it would begin to impose fines up to £20,000 on members disobeying the party whip on crucial votes.[20]

On 24 March 2007 the DUP Party Executive overwhelmingly endorsed a resolution put to them by the Party Officers which did not agree to an establishment of devolution and an Executive in Northern Ireland by the Government's deadline of 26 March, but did agree to setting up an Executive on 8 May 2007.[6]

On 27 March 2007, the party's sole Member of the European Parliament (MEP) Jim Allister, resigned from the party, in opposition to the decision to enter power-sharing with Sinn Féin, he retained his seat as an Independent MEP as Leader of his new hard-line anti St Andrews Agreement splinter group that he formed with other disaffected members who had left the DUP over the issue, Traditional Unionist Voice, a seat which he retained until Diane Dodds won the seat back for the DUP in 2009. MP Gregory Campbell has warned on 6 April 2007 that his party will be watching to see if benefits flow from the party's agreement to share power with Sinn Féin.[21]

On 7 May 2007 the East Antrim MLA George Dawson died after a short battle against cancer. He was replaced by Alastair Ross, who had previously worked as a Parliamentary Researcher for the East Antrim MP and MLA Sammy Wilson.

On 30 May 2008 the DUP held a farewell event to mark the retirement of Ian Paisley as leader of the Party. It was held at the Balmoral Hall, part of the Kings Hall complex in Belfast.

on 31 May 2008 the party's central Executive Committee met at the offices of Castlereagh Borough Council where Ian Paisley formally stepped down as Party Leader and Peter Robinson was ratified as the new leader with Nigel Dodds as his deputy.

On 11 June 2008 the party supported the government's proposal to detain terror suspects for up to 42 days, dubbing all of the party's nine MPs as part of "Brown's dirty dozen".[22] The Times reported that the party had been given "sweetners for Northern Ireland" and "a peerage for the Rev Ian Paisley", amongst other offers to secure Gordon Brown's bill.[23]

Ian Paisley, Jr. scandal

There was continued controversy over the summer of 2007 over the nature of the relationship between Mr Paisley and property developer Seymour Sweeney. On 11 September 2007 North Antrim Sinn Féin MLA, Daithí McKay, used parliamentary privilege to name Sweeney as a member of the DUP in the Assembly, and suggested that there was a strong "conflict of interest" between Mr Sweeney's membership of the DUP and a DUP Minister's decision to "be of a mind" to approve Mr Sweeney's application for a Visitor Centre at the Giant's Causeway. Questions were raised during an edition of Spotlight (NI) on 23 September 2007 as to whether or not Mr Paisley had acted improperly when lobbying for Mr Sweeney regarding the Giant's Causeway visitor centre. It has also emerged that Mr Paisley bought one of a series of houses built in Bushmills by Mr Sweeney (at full market value) after a local councillor and the previous landowner had been told that planning permission would not be granted for a development of more than two houses on that site.

After a series of public blunders and further controversy in February 2008 following scrutiny on the employment of family members by politicians after the Derek Conway scandal when it emerged that Mr Paisley was on his father's payroll as a researcher in the constituency of North Antrim in addition to his roles as an MLA and a Junior Minister [24]

As a result of the scandal Paisley resigned his Junior Minister position on 18 February 2008 [25]

MPs' expenses row

Members of the DUP were lambasted by the press and voters, after MPs' expenses reports were leaked to the media. Several newspapers referred to the "Swish Family Robinson" after party leader Peter Robinson, and his wife Iris, were to have claimed £571,939.41 in expenses with a further £150,000 being paid to family members.[26] Further embarrassment was caused to the party when its deputy leader, Nigel Dodds, had the highest expenses claims of any Northern Ireland MP, ranking 13th highest out of all UK MPs.[27] Details of all MPs' expenses claims since 2004 will be published in July 2009 under the Freedom of Information Act 2000.

Iris Robinson scandal

In January 2010, Peter Robinson was at the centre of a high-profile scandal relating to his 60 year old MP/MLA wife Iris Robinson's[28] admitted infidelity with a 19 year old Roman Catholic man, and alleged serious financial irregularities associated with the scandal.[29][30]


Founder Ian Paisley led the party from its foundation in 1971 onwards, but was forced to bring forward his retirement to the spring of 2008.

Paisley was replaced by former deputy leader Peter Robinson on 31 May 2008.

The DUP and homosexuality

The DUP has been described as an "anti-gay party" by Pink News and as having a "near pathological obsession with all things gay" by The Observer.[31][32] In 1976, its leader Ian Paisley campaigned to "Save Ulster from Sodomy" by maintaining the laws that defined anal intercourse and any sexual contact between men as crimes. Later, some DUP MPs have spoken out against homosexuality in different ways, while tending to avoid outright calls to punish or discriminate against gay people.

In 2005, DUP Councillor Maurice Mills claimed that Hurricane Katrina was sent by God to the United States as an act of judgement upon those who practise sodomy.[33]

In the same year, The Sunday World reported that the DUP's then Westminster candidate Paul Berry had allegedly met a male masseur in a Belfast hotel.[34] Mr Berry later confirmed he was "there for a sports massage". He later resigned from the DUP.[35]

In May 2007, Ian Paisley, Jr. was criticised for stating during an interview that he was "repulsed" by homosexuals[36]. In this instance, the DUP claim that there was no suggestion of any form of discrimination in any of Mr Paisley Jr's comments though the SDLP's equality spokeswoman, Dolores Kelly, requested that the assembly censure Mr Paisley. At the time he was a Junior Minister in OFMDFM with responsibility for equality.

In February 2008, councillor Edwin Poots condemned gay rugby team the Ulster Titans calling it a form of "apartheid". The Lisburn councillor had also tried to ban Civil Partnerships from taking place in Lisburn Civic Centre.[37][38] Councillor Poots, who is also a Stormont MLA, was also involved in a row over funding events such as Gay Pride. Despite strong opposition from within his Church, his party were bound by equality legislation to provide the funds.[39]

In June 2008, Iris Robinson made controversial comments on the Stephen Nolan breakfast show on Radio Ulster, saying that "I have a very lovely psychiatrist who works with me in my offices and his Christian background is that he tries to help homosexuals - trying to turn away from what they are engaged in".[40] The psychiatrist in question, Dr Paul Millar, later resigned from his post as advisor to Robinson and from his post as consultant psychiatrist at Belfast's Mater Hospital.[41] A few days later in Westminster, Robinson stated that “There can be no viler act, apart from homosexuality and sodomy, than sexually abusing innocent children”. Robinson claimed she was "misrepresented", however Hansard staff reported this to be a statement of fact.[42]

In October 2008, Peter Robinson MP, the First Minister of Northern Ireland backed his wife's claims stating "It wasn't Iris Robinson who determined that homosexuality was an abomination, it was The Almighty. This is the Scriptures and it is a strange world indeed where somebody on the one hand talks about equality, but won’t allow Christians to have the equality, the right to speak, the right to express their views".[43]

By January 2009, the Police Service of Northern Ireland advised that it was forwarding a case against Mrs Robinson to the Public Prosecution Service. It is alleged that she twice contravened Article 9 of the Public Order Act 1987[44] by using threatening, abusive or insulting words which have the likelihood to stir up hatred and arouse fear.[45]

The police found that no offence had been committed and on 20 March 2009, the Public Prosecution Service confirmed that Robinson would not be prosecuted for her comments. [46]

See also


  1. ^ a b c "". 
  2. ^
  3. ^ Freston, Paul (2004). Protestant Political Parties: A Global Survey. Aldershot: Ashgate. pp. 47–51. ISBN 978-0754640622. 
  4. ^ Queen's University Democratic Unionist Association
  5. ^
  6. ^ a b "DUP 'would share power in May'". BBC News Online (BBC). 2007-03-24. Retrieved 2007-04-07. 
  7. ^ a b "Allister quits power-sharing DUP". BBC News Online (BBC). 2007-03-27. Retrieved 2007-03-27. 
  8. ^ "Seventh councillor leaves the DUP". BBC News Online (BBC). 2007-04-05. Retrieved 2007-04-07. 
  9. ^ BBC NEWS | UK | Northern Ireland | New unionist group to be launched
  10. ^ Beyond the Sectarian Divide: the Social Bases and Political Consequences of Nationalist and Unionist Party Competition in Ireland by Geoffrey Evans and Mary Duffy. In British Journal of Political Science, Vol. 27, No. 1. (Jan., 1997), p.58
  11. ^ "2005 Local Government Election Results". 
  12. ^ Lesley-Anne Henry (2007-09-26). "Tussle of Biblical proportions over creationism in Ulster classrooms - Education - News - Belfast Telegraph". Belfast Telegraph. Retrieved 2009-04-26. 
  13. ^
  14. ^
  15. ^
  16. ^ CAIN: Issues: Politics: Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) (2004) Devolution Now: The DUP's Concept for Devolution, 5 February 2004
  17. ^
  18. ^
  19. ^ BBC NEWS | Ireland | Paisley 'will accept nomination'
  20. ^ Sunday Times, page 1.10, 4 February 2007
  21. ^ "Agreement must bring benefits, Congressmen are told". Noel McAdam (Belfast Telegraph). 2007-04-06. Retrieved 2007-04-06. 
  22. ^ Twelve good folk and true... or Brown's dirty dozen? - UK Politics, UK - The Independent
  23. ^
  24. ^ BBC News, 06 Feb 2008
  25. ^ BBC News
  26. ^ MP couple taking more than £570,000 from taxpayer in salaries and expenses | Mail Online
  27. ^
  28. ^ [1]
  29. ^ [2]
  30. ^ [3]
  31. ^ "Gains for anti-gay party in Ireland elections". 
  32. ^ "It's time Ian Paisley Junior and his colleagues saw sense about gays". 
  33. ^ "Burning Bush - DUP councillor calls “Hurricane Katrina” a judgment from God". 
  34. ^ BBC NEWS | UK | UK Election 2005 | Northern Ireland | DUP stay tight-lipped over Berry
  35. ^
  36. ^ BBC NEWS | Ireland | Row over 'repulsive gays' comment
  37. ^ DUP minister’s gay rugby comments “nasty and spiteful” - from Pink News - all the latest gay news from the gay community - Pink News
  38. ^ DUP minister calls gay rugby “apartheid” - from Pink News - all the latest gay news from the gay community - Pink News
  39. ^ Extra funding for Gay Pride... from a DUP ministry - Local & National, News -
  40. ^ BBC NEWS | Ireland | 'Gay counselling' call rejected
  41. ^ “Gay cure” MP’s psychiatrist adviser resigns - from Pink News - all the latest gay news from the gay community - Pink News
  42. ^
  43. ^ First Minister Peter Robinson backs wife's view that gays are an 'abomination' - Local & National, News -
  44. ^ The Public Order (Northern Ireland) Order 1987
  45. ^ Police investigating homophobic MP Iris Robinson seek advice about prosection - from Pink News - all the latest gay news from the gay community - Pink News
  46. ^

External links

Simple English

The Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) is the biggest of the two main unionist political parties in Northern Ireland. It was founded by Ian Paisley and the current leader is Peter Robinson.


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