Democratic Unionist Party

The Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) is the larger of the two main unionist political parties in Northern Ireland. Founded by Ian Paisley and currently led by Peter Robinson, it is currently the largest party in the Northern Ireland Assembly and the fourth-largest party in the House of Commons of the United Kingdom.

The DUP has strong links to Protestant churches, particularly the Free Presbyterian Church of Ulster, the church Paisley founded, and is considered a Protestant political party.

Following on from the St Andrews Agreement in October 2006, the DUP has agreed with the Irish republican party Sinn Féin to enter into power-sharing devolved government in Northern Ireland. In the aftermath of the agreement there were reports of divisions within the DUP. Many of its leading members, including Members of Parliament (MPs) Nigel Dodds, David Simpson and Gregory Campbell were claimed to be in opposition to Paisley. All the party's MPs fully signed up to the manifesto for the 2007 Assembly elections, supporting power sharing in principle. An overwhelming majority of the party executive voted in favour of restoring devolution in a meeting in March 2007; however, the DUP's sole Member of the European Parliament (MEP), Jim Allister, and seven DUP councillors later resigned from the party in opposition to its plans to share power with Sinn Féin. They founded the Traditional Unionist Voice in December 2007.

The DUP is the largest party in Northern Ireland, currently holding eight seats at Westminster and 38 seats in the Northern Ireland Assembly. It has one seat in the European Parliament, where its MEP, Diane Dodds, sits as a Non-Inscrit.

Read more about Democratic Unionist Party:  Ideology and Views, Leadership

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