Democratic Unionist Party

The Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) is a unionist and loyalist[10][11] political party in Northern Ireland. It was founded in 1971 during the Troubles by Ian Paisley, who led the party for the next 37 years. Currently led by Jeffrey Donaldson, it is the joint-largest party in the Northern Ireland Assembly, and is the fifth-largest party in the House of Commons of the United Kingdom. The party has been described as right-wing[4] and socially conservative,[12][13] 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 supported Brexit.[14][15]

Democratic Unionist Party
LeaderJeffrey Donaldson
ChairmanThe Lord Morrow
Deputy LeaderPaula Bradley
House of Commons Group LeaderJeffrey Donaldson
General SecretaryMichelle McIlveen
FounderIan Paisley
Founded30 September 1971; 49 years ago (1971-09-30)
Preceded byProtestant Unionist Party
Headquarters91 Dundela Avenue
BT4 3BU[1]
IdeologyBritish unionism[2]
British nationalism[3]
National conservatism[2]
Social conservatism[2]
Right-wing populism[4]
Political positionRight-wing[6][7][8]
ColoursRed, White, Blue
House of Commons
(NI seats)
8 / 18
House of Lords
5 / 788
NI Assembly
26 / 90
Local government in Northern Ireland[9]
122 / 462

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 sharing power with Irish nationalists or republicans as a means of resolving the conflict, and likewise 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. In the 1980s, the DUP was involved in setting up the loyalist paramilitary movements Third Force[16][17][18] and Ulster Resistance,[19] the latter of which helped smuggle a large shipment of weapons into Northern Ireland.[20]

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 both the Northern Ireland Assembly and the UK House of Commons. In 2006, the DUP co-signed the St Andrews Agreement and the following year agreed to enter into power-sharing devolved government with Sinn Féin,[21] who agreed to support the Police Service, courts, and rule of law. Paisley became joint First Minister of Northern Ireland. However, the DUP's only Member of the European Parliament (MEP), Jim Allister,[22] and seven DUP councillors[23] left the party in protest, founding the Traditional Unionist Voice.[24] Paisley was succeeded as DUP leader and First Minister by Peter Robinson (2008–2015), then by Arlene Foster (2015–2021). After she was ousted, Edwin Poots briefly became leader but was himself forced to step down after three weeks. In June 2021, he was succeeded by Jeffrey Donaldson.