The Democratic Unionist Party


The Democratic Unionist Party, headquartered in Dundela Avenue, Belfast, is Northern Ireland's prominent champion of the Unionist cause, as well as being the fourth largest party in terms of MPs in Westminster. The DUP is fronted by Peter Robinson who took over recently from its previous leader, the formidable Dr Ian Paisley.

The party was founded in the early seventies by Dr Paisley and since then he played a pivotal role in the recent politics of Ulster, in fact his distinctive accent and delivery have made his one of the most recognisable faces in the province.

Paisley had made a name for himself and his party through vociferous opposition to the actions of the IRA and its political affiliates, but in 1998 the DUP were instrumental, along with their opposite numbers in the republican Sinn Fein party, in the drawing up and signing of the historic Good Friday Agreement that brought an official end to The Troubles that had blighted communities on both sides of the divide.

This said, it has by no means been a smooth process with both sides protesting and even pulling out temporarily at the demands of the other, and the burgeoning Northern Ireland Assembly has been suspended due to allegations of espionage.

When the Assembly is in session, the DUP holds over thirty seats and consequently hold considerable sway in important votes.

The party's most fierce rivals on the Unionist side are the more moderate Ulster Unionists, whose former leader and long-time political enemy of Dr Paisley, David Trimble, played a key conciliatory role in the Peace Process.