Nigel Dodds

Nigel Alexander Dodds, Baron Dodds of Duncairn, OBE, PC (born 20 August 1958), is a Northern Irish barrister, unionist politician and Life Peer, who served as deputy leader of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) from June 2008 to May 2021.[1] Dodds became North Belfast's MP at the 2001 UK general election and served in that role until he was defeated by Sinn Féin's John Finucane in 2019. He has served in the past as a member of the Northern Ireland Assembly, and as Minister of Finance in the Northern Ireland Executive. In July 2020, Dodds was nominated for a peerage in the House of Lords and announced in September 2020 that he would take the title Lord Dodds of Duncairn.[2] He has been Lord Mayor of Belfast twice and served as General Secretary of the DUP from 1993 to 2008.[3]

The Lord Dodds of Duncairn

Dodds in 2017
Deputy Leader of the Democratic Unionist Party
In office
31 May 2008  28 May 2021
LeaderPeter Robinson
Arlene Foster
Preceded byPeter Robinson
Succeeded byPaula Bradley
Leader of the Democratic Unionist Party in the House of Commons
In office
6 May 2010  13 December 2019
LeaderPeter Robinson
Arlene Foster
Preceded byIan Paisley
Succeeded byJeffrey Donaldson
Minister of Finance and Personnel
In office
5 June 2008  1 July 2009
First MinisterPeter Robinson
Preceded byPeter Robinson
Succeeded bySammy Wilson
Minister of Enterprise, Trade and Investment
In office
8 May 2007  5 June 2008
First MinisterIan Paisley
Peter Robinson
Preceded byReg Empey
Succeeded byArlene Foster
Minister for Social Development
In office
24 October 2001  14 October 2002
First MinisterReg Empey (Acting)
David Trimble
Preceded byMaurice Morrow
Succeeded byMargaret Ritchie
In office
21 November 1999  27 July 2000
First MinisterDavid Trimble
Preceded byPosition established
Succeeded byMaurice Morrow
Member of the House of Lords
Lord Temporal
Assumed office
19 October 2020
Life Peerage
Member of Parliament
for Belfast North
In office
7 June 2001  6 November 2019
Preceded byCecil Walker
Succeeded byJohn Finucane
Member of the Legislative Assembly
for Belfast North
In office
25 June 1998  10 September 2010
Preceded byConstituency established
Succeeded byWilliam Humphrey
Personal details
Nigel Alexander Dodds

(1958-08-20) 20 August 1958 (age 62)
Derry, Northern Ireland
Political partyDemocratic Unionist Party
Spouse(s)Diane Dodds
Alma materSt John's College, Cambridge
Queen's University of Belfast
WebsiteOfficial website


Nigel Dodds was born in Derry, Northern Ireland.[3] Raised in County Fermanagh, he was educated at Portora Royal School in Enniskillen, County Fermanagh,[4] and studied Law at St John's College, Cambridge, from which he graduated with a first-class degree, and where he won the university scholarship, McMahan studentship and Winfield Prize for Law.[4] Upon graduation, he returned to Northern Ireland and, after studying at the Institute of Professional Legal Studies at Queen's University of Belfast, was called to the Bar of Northern Ireland.[5] After working as a barrister, he worked at the Secretariat of the European Parliament from 1984 to 1996.[3]

His father Joe was a long-standing Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) member of Fermanagh District Council until his death in 2008.[6] He is married to DUP politician Diane Dodds; they have two sons and one daughter, and live in Banbridge, County Down.


Dodds entered municipal politics in 1981 when he stood unsuccessfully for the Enniskillen part of Fermanagh District Council.[7] Four years later in 1985, he was elected to Belfast City Council for the religiously and socially mixed Castle electoral area in the north of the city.[8]

He attracted controversy when he and then DUP leader Ian Paisley attended a wake for Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) leader John Bingham.[9]

Dodds soon rose to prominence in the party. He was elected for two one-year terms as Lord Mayor of Belfast in June 1988 (when he became the youngest ever Lord Mayor of Belfast aged 29)[10] and June 1992. The same year, he stood unsuccessfully for the East Antrim constituency in the Westminster election. He was elected to the Northern Ireland Forum in 1996 and topped the poll in North Belfast in all three elections to the reconstituted Northern Ireland Assembly in 1998, 2003 and 2007.[11] Dodds was awarded the OBE in 1997 for services to local government.[4]

North Belfast had historically been strong territory for the DUP, with Johnny McQuade representing the constituency in the British House of Commons from 1979 to 1983. The DUP stood down in favour of the Ulster Unionist Party in Westminster elections in the late 1980s and 1990s, in order to avoid splitting the unionist vote. Then, in 2001, Dodds challenged sitting Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) MP Cecil Walker, despite the danger of losing the mixed constituency to an Irish nationalist. Dodds won just over 40% of the overall vote and with that a 6,387 majority over Sinn Féin's Gerry Kelly, with the incumbent Walker being pushed into fourth place.[citation needed][12]

Dodds was Minister of Social Development in the Northern Ireland Executive from 21 November 1999 but resigned on 27 July 2000, then served again from 24 October 2001, when the devolved institutions were restored, until he was dismissed from office on 11 October 2002, shortly before the Executive and the Northern Ireland Assembly were collapsed by the UUP.[citation needed]

Dodds is vice-chair of the All Party Parliamentary Flag Group.[13] He was appointed to the Privy Council of the United Kingdom on 9 June 2010, when he entered Westminster after the general election as the new party leader in parliament.[14][15]

In a Westminster debate on the issue of governance in association football, Dodds highlighted that footballers born in Northern Ireland often opt to play for the Republic of Ireland national football team instead, saying "action needs to be taken to stop the haemorrhaging of talent from Northern Ireland".[16]

Paramilitary attack

His constituency office was targeted by the Continuity IRA in 2003 when a viable improvised explosive device was left outside the office. The bomb was defused by British Army explosive experts.[17]


In April 2009, after a leaked report showing MPs' expenses, Dodds had the highest expenses of any MP in Northern Ireland, ranking him 13th highest of all UK MPs.[18][19]

12 July 2013 injury

At the Twelfth of July 2013 Orange order parades, Dodds was knocked unconscious at Woodvale Avenue in the Greater Shankill area of North Belfast by a brick thrown by fellow Ulster loyalists rioting against Police Service of Northern Ireland roadblocks. The violence broke out following the decision by the Parades Commission to bar Orangemen from walking past the Irish republican Ardoyne area.[20][21] Dodds had been expelled from the House of Commons chamber for using unparliamentary language by Speaker John Bercow on 10 July 2013, after Dodds had refused to withdraw his accusation that the Conservative Secretary of State for Northern Ireland Theresa Villiers was being "deliberately deceptive" in answering questions about her powers in respect of what he called the "outrageous" Parades Commission ruling.[22]

2017 onwards

Dodds said that the 2017 general election had "done more to maximise our influence" as it led to the DUP supporting a Conservative minority government. Arlene Foster together with Dodds set up the 'confidence-and-supply deal' with the Conservative Government; but relations with Theresa May have not always been smooth.[23] Dodds opposed any attempts from the Republic of Ireland for 'annexation' of the north, and rejected the Brussels "Backstop option", stating it was tantamount to a surrender of sovereignty.[24]

In January 2018, the Renewable Heat Incentive scandal made Dodds even more important to the government in Westminster, because the collapse of the Executive for the first time since 2002, was met with a deal for an extra £1 billion in funding for Northern Ireland.[25] In June 2018, Dodds stated that "anything that would diminish the Union of the United Kingdom would be a clear red line for us."[26]

In March 2019, Dodds was one of 21 MPs who voted against LGBT inclusive sex and relationship education in English schools.[27][28][29]

He was defeated at the 2019 United Kingdom general election, losing his seat to Sinn Féin's John Finucane.[30]

House of Lords

Dodds was nominated for a life peerage in the 2019 Dissolution Honours and created Baron Dodds of Duncairn on 18 September 2020.[31] He made his maiden speech in the House of Lords on 3 November 2020.[32]

On 4 May 2021, Dodds announced that he would not seek re-election as deputy leader. [33]


  1. Angela Balakrishnan and agencies (14 April 2008). "Dodds will be DUP deputy". London, UK: Guardian. Archived from the original on 2 February 2015. Retrieved 26 November 2010.
  2. Mark Rainey (18 September 2020). "Nigel Dodds to take title 'Lord Dodds of Duncairn'". Belfast, UK: The News Letter. Retrieved 18 September 2020.
  3. Northern Ireland Assembly Information Office (20 August 1958). "NI Assembly profile". Archived from the original on 16 December 2010. Retrieved 26 November 2010.
  4. Debrett's People of Today
  5. "Stratagem profile". Archived from the original on 28 September 2007. Retrieved 26 November 2010.
  6. DUP profile Archived 7 April 2007 at the Wayback Machine
  7. "Fermanagh 1981 election". Archived from the original on 14 March 2011. Retrieved 26 November 2010.
  8. "Belfast 1985 local election". Archived from the original on 18 July 2018. Retrieved 26 November 2010.
  9. Profile Archived 18 March 2012 at the Wayback Machine,; accessed 12 August 2015.
  10. "BBC profile". BBC News. 7 May 2007. Archived from the original on 1 February 2011. Retrieved 26 November 2010.
  11. Northern Irish Assembly election info Archived 8 August 2007 at the Wayback Machine,; accessed 12 August 2015.
  12. Westminster, Department of the Official Report (Hansard), House of Commons. "House of Commons Hansard Debates for 27 Jun 2001 (pt 21)". Archived from the original on 20 December 2016. Retrieved 14 December 2016.
  13. UK Parliament - Register of All Party Groups Archived 19 November 2007 at the Wayback Machine
  14. "Privy Council appointments". Privy Council. 9 June 2010. Archived from the original on 2 December 2010. Retrieved 26 July 2010.
  15. Parliamentary Information List, number 08324, 31 May 2018. Democratic Unionist Party: Leaders and Officials since 1971, House of Commons Library, 05-06-2018.
  16. Walker, Stephen (9 February 2012). "BBC News - Nigel Dodds calls for talks over football eligibility". BBC News. Archived from the original on 23 February 2012. Retrieved 29 August 2012.
  17. Bomb defused at MP's office Archived 24 November 2003 at the Wayback Machine,; accessed 12 August 2015.
  18. "Dodds' expenses bill NI's highest". BBC News. 1 April 2009. Archived from the original on 4 April 2009. Retrieved 4 May 2009.
  19. "Nigel Dodds MP, Belfast North, former MLA, Belfast North". Archived from the original on 12 May 2013. Retrieved 8 May 2015.
  20. Quinn, Ben; McDonald, Henry (12 July 2013). "Clashes in Belfast following Twelfth of July parades - as it happened". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 7 March 2016. Retrieved 14 December 2016.
  21. Police and MP Nigel Dodds injured in Belfast riots Archived 2 December 2018 at the Wayback Machine,; accessed 12 August 2015.
  22. Nigel Dodds expelled from Commons chamber Archived 10 November 2018 at the Wayback Machine,; accessed 12 August 2015.
  23. "Nigel Dodds: Future of the government 'isn't entirely in our hands'". The Belfast Telegraph. 19 December 2017. Archived from the original on 28 November 2018. Retrieved 6 June 2018.
  24. "Tanaiste rejects Nigel Dodds Northern Ireland annexation claims". The Border Telegraph. 25 April 2017. Archived from the original on 16 November 2018. Retrieved 6 June 2018.
  25. "Mr Dodds said that looking back, the hung parliament, which gave his party influence, was no accident". 25 November 2017. Archived from the original on 16 February 2018. Retrieved 5 June 2018.
  26. "Theresa May will 'rue the day' she calls DUP's bluff: Nigel Dodds". The Belfast Telegraph. 1 June 2018. Archived from the original on 28 November 2018. Retrieved 5 June 2018.
  27. "MPS vote for LGBT inclusive sex and relationship education from primary school". 28 March 2019. Archived from the original on 30 March 2019. Retrieved 3 April 2019.
  28. "21 MPS who voted against teaching kids about gay families". 28 March 2019. Archived from the original on 30 March 2019. Retrieved 3 April 2019.
  29. "Draft Relationships Education, Relationships and Sex Education and Health Education (England) Regulations 2019 - CommonsVotes". Archived from the original on 29 March 2019. Retrieved 29 March 2019.
  30. "DUP suffers losses as SDLP and Alliance make gains". 13 December 2019. Archived from the original on 13 December 2019. Retrieved 13 December 2019.
  31. "Lord Dodds of Duncairn". UK Parliament. Retrieved 18 September 2020.
  32. Lord Dodds of Duncairn (3 November 2020). "Defence and Security Public Contracts (Amendment) (EU Exit) Regulations 2020". Parliamentary Debates (Hansard). United Kingdom: House of Lords. col. 665–666.
  33. Yorke, Harry (4 May 2021). "Nigel Dodds quits as DUP deputy leader as party rebels get their way". The Telegraph. Retrieved 7 May 2021.