Nigel Alexander Dodds, Baron Dodds of Duncairn, 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. 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. He has been Lord Mayor of Belfast twice and served as General Secretary of the DUP from 1993 to 2008.(born 20 August 1958), is a
Nigel Dodds was born in Derry, Northern Ireland. Raised in County Fermanagh, he was educated at Portora Royal School in Enniskillen, County Fermanagh, 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. 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. After working as a barrister, he worked at the Secretariat of the European Parliament from 1984 to 1996.
His father Joe was a long-standing Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) member of Fermanagh District Council until his death in 2008. 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. 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.
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) 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. Dodds was awarded the OBE in 1997 for services to local government.
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.
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.
Dodds is vice-chair of the All Party Parliamentary Flag Group. 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.
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".
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. 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.
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. 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.
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. In June 2018, Dodds stated that "anything that would diminish the Union of the United Kingdom would be a clear red line for us."
House of Lords
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