Jeffrey Donaldson

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
For other people named Jeff Donaldson, see Jeff Donaldson (disambiguation).
The Right Honourable
Sir Jeffrey Donaldson
Member of Parliament
for Lagan Valley
Assumed office
1 May 1997
Preceded by Sir James Molyneaux
Majority 10,486 (28.7%)
Junior Minister at the Office of the First Minister and deputy First Minister
In office
26 February 2008 – July 2009
Serving with Gerry Kelly
Preceded by Ian Paisley Jr
Succeeded by Robin Newton
Member of the Northern Ireland Assembly
for Lagan Valley
In office
2003 – June 2010
Preceded by Patrick Roche
Succeeded by Paul Givan
Personal details
Born (1962-12-07) 7 December 1962 (age 53)
Kilkeel, Northern Ireland
Nationality British
Political party Democratic Unionist Party
Ulster Unionist Party (till 2003)
Spouse(s) Eleanor
Children 2
Alma mater Castlereagh College
Religion Presbyterian[1]

Sir Jeffrey Mark Donaldson, PC, MP (born 7 December 1962), is a Northern Irish politician and Member of Parliament for Lagan Valley representing the Democratic Unionist Party. He is best known for his opposition to Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) leader David Trimble during the Northern Ireland peace process, especially from 1998 to 2003. He is Northern Ireland's longest-serving current MP.

Early life[edit]

Donaldson was born in Kilkeel, County Down, in Northern Ireland. He attended the Kilkeel High School then Castlereagh College. He joined the Ulster Unionist Party and the Orange Order as a young man and later worked for the MP Enoch Powell.

Two of Donaldson's cousins were killed by the Provisional Irish Republican Army while serving in the Royal Ulster Constabulary: Sam Donaldson was killed in 1970 and Alex Donaldson, a Chief Inspector, died in a mortar attack on a Newry police station in 1985.[2]

Political career[edit]

Entering politics[edit]

In 1985, following the death of Raymond McCullough, Donaldson was elected in a by-election to the Northern Ireland Assembly to represent South Down. In 1996 he was first placed candidate on the UUP list for the 1996 Forum elections, virtually guaranteeing him a seat. This led to his selection in 1997, for the Westminster Parliament where he was elected as a member of parliament (MP) for the Lagan Valley constituency. At that time he was tipped as a potential future leader of the Ulster Unionist Party.[3][4]

Donaldson stated in Richard English's book, Armed Struggle: "A big part of the motivation for me in becoming actively involved in politics was the deep sense of injustice that I felt had been perpetrated against my people and specifically against my family and I wanted to do something about that. And that's why, at the age of 18, I did two things, I joined the Ulster Defence Regiment and I joined the Ulster Unionist Party, because I wanted to pursue, through the forces of the state and the forces of law and order, the IRA and to oppose their campaign. But I also wanted to be involved politically in opposing that campaign as well".[5]

Donaldson attained the rank of corporal in the Ulster Defence Regiment.[6]

Role in the peace process[edit]

In 1998 Donaldson was in the Ulster Unionists' negotiating team for the Good Friday Agreement.[7] However, he walked out of the delegation at the end of the negotiations in protest at some of the arrangements, notably the lack of a link between Sinn Féin's admittance to government and IRA decommissioning.

Dissent in the UUP[edit]

Disagreements over the Good Friday Agreement negotiations planted the seeds of discontent between the figurehead of the anti-agreement faction of the UUP (Donaldson) and the pro-agreement party leader (Trimble). Donaldson was not allowed to stand in the 1998 assembly election as a party rule stopped MPs, apart from the leader and deputy leader, from going forward as assembly candidates.

Donaldson engineered several party council meetings in protest against David Trimble's policies. The council, however, backed Trimble's leadership, and on 23 June 2003, along with fellow MPs David Burnside and Martin Smyth, Donaldson resigned the Ulster Unionist whip at Westminster.[8] The MPs remained party members and in November 2003 Donaldson was elected to the Northern Ireland Assembly for the UUP.

Following the success of the rival Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) in the same Assembly election of 2003, he reiterated his call for Trimble's immediate resignation,[9][10] but the party continued to back Trimble. On 18 December 2003 Donaldson, Norah Beare MLA and Arlene Foster announced their resignation from the UUP and on 5 January 2004 they announced that they had joined the DUP.

Donaldson as DUP member[edit]

Donaldson was returned to the House of Commons of the United Kingdom in the 2005 UK general election and in 2007 was appointed to Her Majesty's Most Honourable Privy Council, making him the Right Honourable Jeffrey Donaldson MP MLA.[11]

In 2009, Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) deputy leader Alasdair McDonnell demanded an apology from Donaldson and a retraction of his claim that Catholics owed allegiance in the first instance to the Pope and the Holy See.[12]

Donaldson was appointed to government by First Minister Peter Robinson, and held the position of Junior Minister in the Office of the First Minister and deputy First Minister from 2008 to 2009. He lost his position as part of the DUP's phasing out of "double jobbing". Following his re-election to the House of Commons in May 2010, Donaldson stood down from the Northern Ireland Assembly, with Paul Givan replacing him.

He was a member of the Public Bill Committee for the Defence Reform Act 2014.[13]

Donaldson was knighted in the 2016 Birthday Honours for political services.[14][15][16]

Involvement in the MPs' expenses scandal[edit]

In 2009, The Daily Telegraph reported that Donaldson had repaid £555 claimed for pay-to-view films in overnight hotel stays. In total, Donaldson submitted claim forms, including receipts, for 68 pay-to-view movies. Hotel sources confirmed that films he put on his expenses during 2004 and 2005 were in the highest price category offered to guests, covering the latest blockbusters and adult movies. Donaldson issued an official statement denying watching any content of an adult or pornographic nature.[17]

Personal life[edit]

Donaldson married Eleanor on 26 June 1987, with whom he has two daughters. He is a member of the Orange Order.[18]


  • Master Jeffrey Donaldson (1962–1980)
  • Mr Jeffrey Donaldson (1980–1997)
  • Mr Jeffrey Donaldson MP (1997–2003)
  • Mr Jeffrey Donaldson MP MLA (2003–2007)
  • The Rt. Hon. Jeffrey Donaldson MP MLA (2007–2010)
  • The Rt. Hon. Jeffrey Donaldson MP (2010–2016)
  • The Rt. Hon. Sir Jeffrey Donaldson MP (2016-
Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
James Molyneaux
Member of Parliament for Lagan Valley
Northern Ireland Assembly
Preceded by
Patrick Roche
MLA for Lagan Valley
Succeeded by
Paul Givan
Political offices
Preceded by
Ian Paisley, Jr.
Junior Minister
Succeeded by
Robin Newton


  1. ^ "Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) - Northern Ireland". DUP. Retrieved 2016-07-27. 
  2. ^ About Me – Jeffrey Donaldson MP official site Archived 17 December 2005 at the Wayback Machine.
  3. ^ "RTÉ News". RTÉ.ie. Archived from the original on 21 June 2004. Retrieved 17 June 2010. 
  4. ^ "Permanent". Permanent Retrieved 17 June 2010. 
  5. ^ English, R. (2003) Armed Struggle: The History of the IRA, Oxford University Press, USA, p.373
  6. ^ "'A lasting legacy' to the memory of UDR soldiers unveiled in Lisburn - Ulster Star". 2011-06-17. Retrieved 2016-07-27. 
  7. ^ "What happened to Good Friday? Garret FitzGerald (London Review of Books)". Retrieved 17 June 2010. 
  8. ^ "UUP rebels to face discipline", BBC News, 26 June 2003.
  9. ^ "Lead story". Irish Times. Retrieved 2016-07-27. 
  10. ^ "Irish Examiner – 2003/12/02: Paisley pledges to play 'positive role' in North". 2 December 2003. Retrieved 17 June 2010. 
  11. ^ DITM. "Jreffrey Donaldson MP Election Site". Retrieved 17 June 2010. 
  12. ^ "DUP conflict of interest claim over fealty to pope angers SDLP". 3 March 2009. Retrieved 17 June 2010. 
  13. ^ "House of Commons Public Bill Committee on the Defence Reform Bill 2013-14". Retrieved 17 September 2013. 
  14. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 61608. p. B2. 11 June 2016.
  15. ^ "Queen's Birthday Honours: Rod Stewart and Tim Peake head list". BBC News. 2016-06-10. Retrieved 2016-07-27. 
  16. ^ "Queen's Birthday Honours 2016" (PDF). p. 2. Retrieved 10 June 2016. 
  17. ^ Prince, Rosa; Allen, Nick; Hope, Christopher (4 July 2009). "Telegraph: MPs' expenses: Jeffrey Donaldson repays £555 claimed for pay-to-view films in hotel". The Daily Telegraph. London. 
  18. ^ Telegraph – 1997/26/01: RUC may lose final word on Orange Order marches Archived 18 March 2005 at the Wayback Machine.

External links[edit]