Young Unionists

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Not to be confused with Young Unionists, the youth wing of the defunct Unionist Party (Scotland).
Young Unionists
Chairman Cllr Alexander Redpath
Founded 2004
Headquarters Belfast, Northern Ireland
Ideology Unionism
Mother party Ulster Unionist Party
European affiliation European Young Conservatives

The Young Unionists, formally known as the Ulster Young Unionist Council (UYUC), is the youth wing of the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP). It has in its present incarnation been in existence since 2004.


UYUC Crest

Attempts had been made in the 1920s to create a youth movement linked to that of the Conservative Party (the Junior Imperial and Constitutional League) without much success. A second attempt was made before the outbreak of the Second World War, which also failed. The UYUC was formed by the Standing Committee of the Ulster Unionist Council in 1946 and quickly became a successful movement in South & West Belfast, Fermanagh and Down.[1] The body's first Chairman was future Prime Minister of Northern Ireland, Brian Faulkner[1][2]

In 1959 Brian Maginess QC and Sir Clarence Graham, Bt. spoke to the Young Unionists advocating an increase in Roman Catholic membership of the UUP. This was regarded as controversial at the time.

The body created many prominent figures in Northern Ireland politics throughout the 1960s and 1970s such as William Craig and John D Taylor, however disagreements over Government policy and other factors left the body is disarray by the early 1970s, and it disbanded following the collapse of the Stormont Parliament. The body re-emerged under the Chairmanship of David McNarry and continued to thrive throughout the 1980s, producing figures such as Edgar Graham, Jeffrey Donaldson, Peter Weir and Arlene Foster with the latter 3 defecting to the DUP.

1990s to present[edit]

The body's membership was strongly opposed to the Belfast Agreement in 1998, and many campaigned against it. At the 2004 AGM the officers voted to disband the group.[3][4][5]

The organisation reconstituted shortly after it disbanded and has since enjoyed a period of sustained growth.[6] The UYUC has branches at Queen's University, Belfast,[7] the University of Ulster[8] and branches at constituency level in the City of Belfast, Mid-Ulster/West Tyrone,[9] Lagan Valley[6] and also Newry and Armagh/South Down, as well as Fermanagh & South Tyrone.

The youth wing has produced many current and former senior faces in the party including The Lord Laird, The Lord Rogan, Jeffrey Donaldson MP MLA [10] and David McNarry MLA, all of whom are former Chairmen, as well as Sir Reg Empey MLA, who served as Vice Chairman.

Current Activities[edit]

In recent years the Young Unionists have continued to function as an active political youth wing. In the 2014 local government elections 9 members of the Young Unionists were returned as councillors.[11] This represents over 10% of the UUP's total councillors.

The Young Unionists host a number of events on an annual basis including a summer debate series and conference.

Young Unionists and the Internet[edit]

Their website contained what was claimed to be the first party political weblog in Northern Ireland.[12] The weblog, was ranked tenth best political blog in Ireland by Mick Fealty[13] and 221st best political blog in the UK[14] in a 2007 reader's poll run by Iain Dale. During the 2005 General election campaign, an anonymous Young Unionist purchased the domain name, which was at that time displayed on a large sign in Jim Allister MEP's East Belfast constituency office.[15] The anonomymous young unionist used the domain name to display the words "TOO SLOW JIM" which linked to the UUP party website.[15]

2014-2015 Officers[edit]

  • Chairman: Cllr Alexander Redpath
  • Vice-Chairman: Cathy Corbett
  • Secretary: Cllr Ben Kelso
  • Treasurer: Jonathan Crawford
  • PRO: Sarah Calderwood
  • Organiser: Sky Aughey
  • Membership Officer: Josh Lowry
  • Universities Officer: Gareth Copeland



Second UYUC

  • 1998 & 1999: Peter King
  • 2002 & 2003: Cllr Peter Brown

Current UYUC

  • 2004: Kenny Donaldson
  • 2005: Cllr Peter Bowles
  • 2006 & 2007: Cllr Mark Dunn
  • 2008: Peter Munce (January 2008 - October 2008)
  • 2008 & 2009: Michael Shilliday
  • 2010 & 2011: Alasdair O'Hara
  • 2012 & 2013: Frank Geddis
  • 2014: Cllr Alexander Redpath



  • 'The Ulster Unionist Party, 1882-1973 : its development and organisation' (1973), J F Harbinson
  • 'A history of the Ulster Unionist Party : protest, pragmatism and pessimism' (2004) Graham Walker
  • 'The Ulster Unionist Party 1972-92 (A Political Movement in an Era of Conflict and Change)' (1996), Dr David Hume

External links[edit]