Jeffrey Donaldson: Wikis


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The Right Honourable
 Jeffrey Donaldson MP MLA

Member of Parliament
for Lagan Valley
Assumed office 
1 May 1997
Preceded by Jim Molyneaux
Majority 14,117 (33.2%)

Assumed office 
26 February 2008
Preceded by Ian Paisley Jr
Succeeded by Robin Newton

Assumed office 
25 June 1998
Preceded by new assembly

Born 7 December 1962 (1962-12-07) (age 47)
Kilkeel, Northern Ireland
Nationality British
Political party Democratic Unionist Party, formerly Ulster Unionist Party
Spouse(s) Eleanor Donaldson
Religion Presbyterian Church in Ireland[1]

Jeffrey Mark Donaldson, MP, MLA PC (born 7 December 1962) is a Northern Irish politician and Member of Parliament for Lagan Valley. He is best known for his opposition to Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) leader David Trimble during the Northern Ireland peace process, especially from 1998 to 2003.


Early life

Donaldson was born in Kilkeel, County Down, in Northern Ireland. He attended the Kilkeel High School then Castlereagh College. He joined the Ulster Unionist Party and the Orange Order as a young man and later worked for the MP Enoch Powell.

Two of Donaldson's cousins were killed by the Provisional Irish Republican Army while serving in the Royal Ulster Constabulary: Sam Donaldson was killed in 1970 and Alex Donaldson, a Chief Inspector, died in a mortar attack on a Newry police station in 1985.[2]

Political career

Entering politics

In 1985 he was elected in a by-election to the Northern Ireland Assembly. In 1996 he was first placed candidate on the UUP list for the 1996 forum elections, virtually guaranteeing him a seat. This led to his selection in 1997, for the Westminster Parliament where he was elected as a Member of Parliament (MP) for the Lagan Valley constituency. At that time he was tipped as a potential future leader of the Ulster Unionist Party.[3][4]

Donaldson stated in Richard English's book, Armed Struggle: "A big part of the motivation for me in becoming actively involved in politics was the deep sense of injustice that I felt had been perpetrated against my people and specifically against my family and I wanted to do something about that. And that's why, at the age of 18, I did two things, I joined the Ulster Defence Regiment and I joined the Ulster Unionist Party, because I wanted to pursue, through the forces of the state and the forces of law and order, the IRA and to oppose their campaign. But I also wanted to be involved politically in opposing that campaign as well".[5]

Role in the Peace Process

In 1998 Donaldson was in the Ulster Unionists' negotiating team for the Good Friday Agreement.[6] However, he walked out of the delegation at the end of the negotiations in protest at some of the arrangements, notably the lack of a link between Sinn Féin's admittance to government and IRA decommission.

Dissent in the UUP

Disagreements over the Good Friday Agreement negotiations planted the seeds of discontent between the figurehead of the anti-agreement faction of the UUP (Donaldson) and the party leader (Trimble). Donaldson was not allowed to stand in the 1998 assembly election as a party rule stopped MPs, apart from the leader and deputy leader, from going forward as assembly candidates.

Donaldson engineered several party council meetings in protest against David Trimble's policies. The council, however, backed Trimble’s leadership, and on 23 June 2003, along with fellow MPs David Burnside and Martin Smyth, Donaldson resigned the Ulster Unionist whip at Westminster.[7] The MPs remained party members and in November 2003 Donaldson was elected to the Northern Ireland Assembly for the UUP.

Following the success of the rival Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) in the same election Assembly election of 2003, he reiterated his call for Trimble's immediate resignation,[8][9] but the party continued to back Trimble. On 18 December 2003 Donaldson, Norah Beare MLA and Arlene Foster announced their resignation from the UUP and on 5 January 2004 they announced that they had joined the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP).

Donaldson as DUP member

Donaldson was returned to the British House of Commons in the 2005 UK general election and in 2007 was appointed to Her Majesty's Most Honourable Privy Council, making him the Right Honourable Jeffrey Donaldson MP MLA.[10]

In 2009, Alasdair McDonnell demanded an apology from Donaldson and a retraction of his claim that Catholics owed allegiance in the first instance to the pope and the Vatican.[11]

Donaldson was appointed to Government by First Minister Peter Robinson, and held the position of Junior Minister in the Office of the FM from 2008 to 2009. He lost his position as part of the DUPs phasing out of "double jobbing". This action has indicated that he will more than likely concentrate on being an MP.

Personal life

He married Eleanor on 26 June 1987, with whom he has two daughters. He is a member of the Orange Order.[12]

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
James Molyneaux
Member of Parliament for Lagan Valley
Northern Ireland Assembly
Preceded by
Patrick Roche
MLA for Lagan Valley
2003 -
Succeeded by
Political offices
Preceded by
Ian Paisley, Jr.
Junior Minister
2008 - 2009
Succeeded by
Robin Newton


External links

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