Who Are The Democratic Unionist Party?

Democratic Unionist Party leader Arlene Foster is the kingmaker in this election (Photo: Getty Images)

The UK has woken up to a hung parliament. Theresa May has failed to win a Conservative majority and is seeking to form a minority government with her “friends and allies” in the Democratic Unionist Party.

Not heard of them? You’re not the only one. In fact, earlier today their official website crashed as people tried to find out who they are and what they want from us.

Unfortunately, the discoveries are grim.

This is the Northern Irish party that has sparked controversy, justifiably, with its extreme stance on emotive issues like abortion and gay marriage.

Let us draw your attention to some “memorable” (read: depressing as hell) moments in the DUP’s near 50-year history.

LGBTQ rights

The DUP once backed a campaigned called Save Ulster From Sodomy. Enough said. There’s more, though.

Ian Paisley Jr, son of DUP founder Ian Paisley, believes homosexuality is “immoral, offensive and obnoxious” and claims to be “repulsed” by gays and lesbians.

Jim Wells, the DUP’s former health minister, called Pride parades “repugnant”, dismissed science to retain a “gay blood” ban and refused to partake in gay rights debates. He resigned after a scandal broke over comments he made about children raised by gay parents at a South Downs hustings.

The DUP is firmly against same-sex marriage and has repeatedly blocked attempts to change the law in Northern Ireland, insisting that “tradition” must be upheld at all costs.

Women’s rights

Women in Northern Ireland can only seek an abortion when their life is in danger and the DUP pledge to retain the ban. This makes them the biggest pro-forced pregnancy party in the UK.

DUP leader Arlene Foster promised last year to ensure that abortion was “not as freely available [in Northern Ireland] as it is in England” and swore not to liberalise the 1967 act. Cases involving pregnancy as a result of rape will be “carefully considered”, apparently.

The DUP’s stance on abortion has riled campaigners, who say their actions have forced women into seeking terminations through potentially harmful means.

The environment

Climate change denial is not party policy but former DUP environment minister Sammy Wilson described it as a “con” and banned the government’s “Act on Co2 ads from TV, claiming they were “propaganda”.

Capital punishment

Two senior DUP ministers have recently called for the return of the death penalty with Lord Morrow, the housing minister, wanting the murder of security force staff to be treated as a capital offence.

Gregory Campbell, DUP MP for East Londonderry, told Radio Ulster that he is “yet to hear alternatives to capital punishment”, which ended in the UK in 1964.


Mervyn Storey, Chair of the DUP’s Education Committee, is a member of the Caleb Foundation, which believes that God created our planet in six days.

Several of the party’s senior members are also creationists, with West Tyrone assembly member Tom Buchanan last year calling for creationism to be “taught in every school” to “counter evolutionary teaching” (he also told schoolchildren that homosexuality is an “abomination”).

Edwin Poots, meanwhile, had this to say to the Radio Times: “You’re telling me that cosmic balls of dust gathered and there was an explosion. We’ve had lots of explosions in Northern Ireland and I’ve never seen anything come out of that that was good.”

Elsewhere, the DUP are in favour of abandoning the bedroom tax and retaining the “triple lock” on pensions and the winter fuel allowance.

They are not on board with May’s “hard Brexit” plans, making it likely that compromises will need to be made before they will guarantee the Tories their support.

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