Democratic Unionist Party

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Group.png Democratic Unionist Party   PowerbaseRdf-entity.pngRdf-icon.png
FounderIan Paisley
Headquarters91 Dundela Avenue Belfast, County Antrim, Northern Ireland
Member ofInternational Democrat Union
A unionist (protestant, pro-UK) political party in Northern Ireland

The Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) is a unionist political party in Northern Ireland. Ian Paisley founded the DUP in 1971, during the Troubles, and led the party for the next 37 years. Now led by Arlene Foster, it is the party with the most seats in the Northern Ireland Assembly and the fifth-largest party in the House of Commons. Following the UK/2017 General Election, the party has agreed to support a Conservative minority government on a case-by-case basis on matters of mutual concern.[1]

The DUP evolved from the Protestant Unionist Party and has historically strong links to the Free Presbyterian Church of Ulster, the church Paisley founded. During the Troubles, the DUP opposed attempts to resolve the conflict that would involve sharing power with Irish nationalists or republicans, and rejected attempts to involve the Republic of Ireland in Northern Irish affairs. It campaigned against the Sunningdale Agreement of 1973, the Anglo-Irish Agreement of 1985, and the Good Friday Agreement of 1998.[2] In the 1980s, the party was involved in setting up the paramilitary movements Third Force and Ulster Resistance.

It is right-wing and socially conservative, being anti-abortion and opposing same-sex marriage. The DUP sees itself as defending Britishness and Ulster Protestant culture against Irish nationalism. The party is Eurosceptic and during the 2016 EU Referendum it supported the UK's withdrawal from the EU.[3][4]

For most of the DUP's history, the Ulster Unionist Party was the largest unionist party in Northern Ireland, but by 2004 the DUP had overtaken the UUP in terms of seats in the Northern Ireland Assembly and the Westminster Parliament. Following the St Andrews Agreement in 2006, the DUP agreed to enter into power-sharing devolved government in Northern Ireland with Sinn Féin. Despite reports of divisions within the party, a majority of the party executive voted in favour of power-sharing in 2007.[5] However, the DUP's sole Member of the European Parliament (MEP), Jim Allister,[6] and seven DUP councillors[7] left the party in opposition to its plans to share power with Sinn Féin, founding the Traditional Unionist Voice.[8] Peter Robinson became DUP leader in 2008.


Party Members

Diane Dodds16 August 1958
Nigel Dodds20 August 1958Northern Irish barrister, unionist politician and life peer, who was deputy leader of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) from June 2008 to May 2021.
Arlene Foster3 July 1970First Minister of Northern Ireland
Andrew Hunter8 January 1943
William McCrea6 August 1948
Iris Robinson6 September 1949


Related Documents

TitleTypePublication dateAuthor(s)Description
Document:The Brutal Legacy of Bloody Sunday is a Powerful Warning to Those Hoping to Save BrexitArticle19 March 2019Patrick CockburnWhat we are seeing is the two most divisive issues in modern British history coming together in a toxic blend: these are Brexit and the Irish question.
Document:The Price of Peaceblog post6 November 2018Craig MurrayIt is not possible to understand the current state of play in Brexit negotiations, without understanding that those effectively driving the Tory Party position do not view a hard border with Ireland as undesirable. They view it as a vital achievement en route to rolling back power sharing and all the affirmative measures which brought peace to Northern Ireland, in an affirmation of the glory and power of unionism.
Document:The Real Reason Theresa May’s Brexit Has FailedArticle2 March 2019T. J. ColesSo, the choice faced by ordinary British people is between a neoliberal EU supported by millionaires like Kenneth Clarke or an ultra-neoliberal Brexit supported by multimillionaires like Jacob Rees-Mogg. Meanwhile, ordinary working-class people pay the price for these elite games, as usual.
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