The Democratic Unionist Party (DUP)
The Democratic Unionist P
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The Democratic Unionist Party (DUP)

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The Democratic Unionist Party (DUP)

The Democratic Unionist Party (DUP)

Politics and Administration

Description

The Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) is a unionist, loyalist, British nationalist and national conservative 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 second 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 centre-right to 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 and republicanism. It is also Eurosceptic and supported Brexit.

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 and Ulster Resistance, the latter of which helped smuggle a large shipment of weapons into Northern Ireland.

For most of the DUP's history, the Ulster Unionist Party was the largest unionist party in Northern Ireland; however, 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, 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, and seven DUP councillors left the party in protest, founding the Traditional Unionist Voice. Paisley was succeeded as DUP leader and First Minister by Peter Robinson (2008–2015), then by Arlene Foster (2015–2021). After Foster was ousted, Edwin Poots briefly became leader and nominated Paul Givan as First Minister, but was himself forced to step down after three weeks. In June 2021, he was succeeded by Jeffrey Donaldson. In protest against the Northern Ireland Protocol, Givan resigned as First Minister in February 2022, collapsing the Northern Ireland Executive. Since then, the DUP has blocked the formation of a new Executive and Assembly.

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