Ulster Unionist Party

The Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) is a unionist political party in Northern Ireland.[5] Having gathered support in Northern Ireland during the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries, the party governed Northern Ireland between 1921 and 1972. It was supported by most unionist voters throughout the conflict known as the Troubles, during which time it was often referred to as the Official Unionist Party (OUP).[6][7] Between 1905 and 1972 its MPs took the Conservative whip at Westminster, considered as part of the Conservative Party.

It is currently the fourth-largest party in Northern Ireland, having been overtaken in 2003 by the DUP and Sinn Féin, and in 2017 by the SDLP. At the 2015 general election, the party won two seats in the House of Commons, Fermanagh and South Tyrone and South Antrim. At the 2017 snap election, the party lost these two seats, and made no gains.

In 2016, the UUP, the SDLP and the Alliance Party decided not to accept the seats on the Northern Ireland Executive to which they would have been entitled and to form an official opposition to the executive. This marked the first time that a devolved government in Northern Ireland did not include the UUP. The party leader is Robin Swann, chosen in 2017 after Mike Nesbitt's resignation following the party's poor performance at that year's assembly election.[8]

Ulster Unionist Party
LeaderRobin Swann MLA
PresidentMay Steele
ChairmanThe Lord Empey
Founded3 March 1905
Preceded byIrish Unionist Alliance
HeadquartersStrandtown Hall
2-4 Belmont Road
Northern Ireland
Youth wingYoung Unionists
Political positionCentre-right[3]
European affiliationAlliance of Conservatives and Reformists in Europe
International affiliationNone
European Parliament groupEuropean Conservatives and Reformists
UK affiliationConservative Party (1905–1972, 2008–2012)
Colours     Blue
House of Commons
(NI Seats)
0 / 18
House of Lords
2 / 778
0 / 3
NI Assembly
10 / 90
Local government in Northern Ireland[4]
75 / 462


1880s to 1921

The Ulster Unionist Party traces its formal existence back to the foundation of the Ulster Unionist Council in 1905. Before that, however, there had been a less formally organised Irish Unionist Alliance (IUA) since the late 19th century, usually dominated by unionists from Ulster. Modern organised unionism properly emerged after William Ewart Gladstone's introduction in 1886 of the first of three Home Rule Bills in response to demands by the Irish Parliamentary Party. The IUA was an alliance of Irish Conservatives and Liberal Unionists, the latter having split from the Liberal Party over the issue of home rule. It was the merger of these two parties in 1912 that gave rise to the current name of the Conservative and Unionist Party, to which the UUP was formally linked (to varying degrees) until 1985.

From the beginning, the party had a strong association with the Orange Order, a Protestant fraternal organisation. The original composition of the Ulster Unionist Council was 25% Orange delegates,[9] however this was reduced through the years. Although most unionist support was based in the geographic area that became Northern Ireland, there were at one time unionist enclaves throughout southern Ireland. Unionists in County Cork and Dublin were particularly influential. The initial leadership of the Ulster Unionist Party all came from outside what would later become Northern Ireland; men such as Colonel Saunderson, Viscount (later the Earl of) Midleton and the Dubliner Edward Carson, all members of the Irish Unionist Alliance. However, after the Irish Convention failed to reach an understanding on home rule and with the partition of Ireland under the Government of Ireland Act 1920, Irish unionism in effect split. Many southern unionist politicians quickly became reconciled with the new Irish Free State, sitting in its Seanad or joining its political parties. The existence of a separate Ulster Unionist Party became entrenched as the party took control of the new government of Northern Ireland.

The Road To War Q81759
Carson inspecting the UVF, F. E. Smith walking behind him, pre-1914

The leadership of the UUP was taken by Sir Edward Carson in 1910. Throughout his 11-year leadership he fought a sustained campaign against Irish Home Rule, including being involved in the formation of the Ulster Volunteers (UVF) in 1912. In the 1918 general election, Carson switched constituencies from his former seat of Dublin University to Belfast Duncairn. Carson strongly opposed the partition of Ireland and the end of unionism as an all-Ireland political force, so he refused the opportunity to be Prime Minister of Northern Ireland or even to sit in the Northern Ireland House of Commons, citing a lack of connection with the place. The leadership of the UUP and, subsequently, Northern Ireland, was taken by Sir James Craig.

The Stormont era: Part of the Conservative Party


Until almost the very end of its period of power in Northern Ireland, the UUP was led by a combination of landed gentry (Basil Brooke, 1st Viscount Brookeborough, Hugh MacDowell Pollock and James Chichester-Clark), aristocracy (Terence O'Neill) and gentrified industrial magnates (James Craig, 1st Viscount Craigavon and John Miller Andrews – nephew of William Pirrie, 1st Viscount Pirrie). Only its last Prime Minister, Brian Faulkner, was from a middle-class background. During this era, all but 11 of the 149 UUP Stormont MPs were members of the Orange Order, as were all Prime Ministers.[10]

James Craig governed Northern Ireland from its inception until his death in 1940 and is buried with his wife by the east wing of Parliament Buildings. His successor, J. M. Andrews, was heavily criticised for appointing octogenarian veterans of Craigavon's administration to his cabinet. His government was also believed to be more interested in protecting the statue of Carson at the Stormont Estate than the citizens of Belfast during the Belfast blitz. A backbench revolt in 1943 resulted in his resignation and replacement by Sir Basil Brooke (later Viscount Brookeborough), although he was recognised as leader of the party until 1946.

Brookeborough, despite having felt that Craigavon had held on to power for too long, was Prime Minister for one year longer. During this time he was on more than one occasion called to meetings of the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland to explain his actions, most notably following the 1947 Education Act which made the government responsible for the payment of National Insurance contributions of teachers in Catholic Church-controlled schools. Ian Paisley called for Brookeborough's resignation in 1953 when he refused to sack Brian Maginess and Clarence Graham, who had given speeches supporting re-admitting Catholics to the UUP.[11] He retired in 1963 and was replaced by Terence O'Neill, who emerged ahead of other candidates, Jack Andrews and Faulkner.


In the 1960s, identifying with the civil rights movement of Martin Luther King and encouraged by attempts at reform under O'Neill, various organisations campaigned for civil rights, calling for changes to the system for allocating public housing and the voting system for the local government franchise, which was restricted to (disproportionately Protestant) rate payers.[12][13][14][15] O'Neill had pushed through some reforms but in the process the Ulster Unionists became strongly divided. At the 1969 Stormont general election UUP candidates stood on both pro- and anti-O'Neill platforms. Several independent pro-O'Neill unionists challenging his critics, while the Protestant Unionist Party of Ian Paisley mounted a hard-line challenge. The result proved inconclusive for O'Neill, who resigned a short time later. His resignation was probably caused by a speech of James Chichester-Clark who stated that he disagreed with the timing, but not the principle, of universal suffrage at local elections.

Chichester-Clark won the leadership election to replace O'Neill and swiftly moved to implement many of O'Neill's reforms. Civil disorder continued to mount, culminating in August 1969 when Catholic Bogside residents clashed with the Royal Ulster Constabulary in Derry because of an Apprentice Boys of Derry march, sparking days of riots. Early in 1971, Chichester-Clark flew to London to request further military aid following the 1971 Scottish soldiers' killings. When this was all but refused, he resigned to be replaced by Brian Faulkner.

Faulkner's government struggled though 1971 and into 1972. After Bloody Sunday, the British Government threatened to remove control of the security forces from the devolved government. Faulkner reacted by resigning with his entire cabinet, and the British Government suspended, and eventually abolished, the Northern Ireland Parliament, replacing it with Direct Rule.

The liberal unionist group, the New Ulster Movement, which had advocated the policies of Terence O'Neill, left and formed the Alliance Party of Northern Ireland in April 1970, while the emergence of Ian Paisley's Protestant Unionist Party continued to draw off some working-class and more Ulster loyalist support.


Troubled Images Exhibition, Belfast, August 2010 (03)
Ulster Unionist Party, 1974. Troubled Images Exhibition, Linen Hall Library, Belfast, August 2010

In June 1973 the UUP won a majority of seats in the new Northern Ireland Assembly, but the party was divided on policy. The Sunningdale Agreement, which led to the formation of a power-sharing Executive under Ulster Unionist leader Brian Faulkner, ruptured the party. In the 1973 elections to the Executive the party found itself divided, a division that did not formally end until January 1974 with the triumph of the anti-Sunningdale faction. Faulkner was then overthrown, and he set up the Unionist Party of Northern Ireland (UPNI). The Ulster Unionists were then led by Harry West from 1974 until 1979. In the February 1974 general election, the party participated in the United Ulster Unionist Coalition (UUUC) with Vanguard and the Democratic Unionist Party, successor to the Protestant Unionist Party. The result was that the UUUC won 11 out of 12 parliamentary seats in Northern Ireland on a fiercely anti-Sunningdale platform, although they barely won 50% of the overall popular vote. This result was a fatal blow for the Executive, which soon collapsed.

Up until 1972 the UUP sat with the Conservative Party at Westminster, traditionally taking the Conservative parliamentary whip. To all intents and purposes the party functioned as the Northern Ireland branch of the Conservative Party. In 1972, in protest over the prorogation of the Parliament of Northern Ireland, the Westminster Ulster Unionist MPs withdrew from the alliance.[16][17] The party remained affiliated to the National Union of Conservative and Unionist Associations, but in 1985, withdrew from it as well, in protest over the Anglo-Irish Agreement. Subsequently, the Conservative Party has organised separately in Northern Ireland, with little electoral success.

Under West's leadership, the party recruited Enoch Powell, who became Ulster Unionist MP for South Down in October 1974 after defecting from the Conservatives. Powell advocated a policy of 'integration', whereby Northern Ireland would be administered as an integral part of the United Kingdom. This policy divided both the Ulster Unionists and the wider unionist movement, as Powell's ideas conflicted with those supporting a restoration of devolved government to Northern Ireland. The party also made gains upon the break-up of the Vanguard Party and its merger back into the Ulster Unionists. The separate United Ulster Unionist Party (UUUP) emerged from the remains of Vanguard but folded in the early 1980s, as did the UPNI. In both cases the main beneficiaries of this were the Ulster Unionists, now under the leadership of James Molyneaux (1979–95).

Trimble leadership

David Trimble led the party between 1995 and 2005. His support for the Belfast Agreement caused a rupture within the party into pro-agreement and anti-agreement factions. Trimble served as First Minister of Northern Ireland in the power-sharing administration created under the Belfast Agreement.

Unusually for a unionist party, the UUP had a Roman Catholic Member of the Legislative Assembly (MLA) (the Northern Ireland Legislative Assembly), Sir John Gorman until the 2003 election. In March 2005, the Orange Order voted to end its official links with the UUP, while still maintaining the same unofficial links as other interest groups. Trimble faced down Orange Order critics who tried to suspend him for his attendance at a Catholic funeral for a young boy killed by the Real IRA in the Omagh bombing. In a sign of unity, Trimble and President of Ireland Mary McAleese walked into the church together.

In the 2001 general election, the Ulster Unionists lost a number of seats belonging to UUP stalwarts; for example, John Taylor, the former deputy leader of the party, lost his seat of Strangford to Iris Robinson.

The party's misfortunes continued at the 2005 election. The party held six seats at Westminster immediately before the 2005 general election, down from seven after the previous general election following the defection of Jeffrey Donaldson in 2004. The election resulted in the loss of five of their six seats. The only seat won by an Ulster Unionist was North Down, by Sylvia Hermon, who had won the seat in the 2001 general election from Robert McCartney of United Kingdom Unionist Party. Only the Labour Party lost more seats in 2005. David Trimble himself lost his seat in Upper Bann and resigned as party leader soon after. The ensuing leadership election was won by Reg Empey.

Empey leadership

In May 2006 UUP leader Reg Empey attempted to create a new assembly group that would have included Progressive Unionist Party (PUP) leader David Ervine. The PUP is the political wing of the illegal Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF).[18][19][20][21][22] Many in the UUP, including the last remaining MP, Sylvia Hermon, were opposed to the move.[23][24] The link was in the form of a new group called the 'Ulster Unionist Party Assembly Group' whose membership was the 24 UUP MLAs and Ervine. Empey justified the link by stating that under the d'Hondt method for allocating ministers in the Assembly, the new group would take a seat in the Executive from Sinn Féin.

Following a request for a ruling from the DUP's Peter Robinson, the Speaker ruled that the UUPAG was not a political party within the meaning of the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000.[25]

The party did poorly in the 2007 Northern Ireland Assembly election. The party retained 18 of its seats within the assembly.[26] Empey was the only leader of one of the four main parties not to be re-elected on first preference votes alone in the Assembly elections of March 2007.

In July 2008, the UUP and Conservative Party announced that a joint working group had been established to examine closer ties. On 26 February 2009, the Ulster Unionist Executive and area council of Northern Ireland Conservatives agreed to field joint candidates in future elections to the House of Commons and European Parliament under the name "Ulster Conservatives and Unionists – New Force". The agreement meant that Ulster Unionist MPs could have sat in a Conservative Government, renewing the relationship that had broken down in 1974 over the Sunningdale Agreement and in 1985 over the Anglo-Irish Agreement.[27][28][29] The UUP's sole remaining MP at the time, Sylvia Hermon, opposed the agreement, stating she would not be willing to stand under the UCUNF banner.[30]

In February 2010, Hermon confirmed that she would not be seeking a nomination as a Conservative/UUP candidate for the forthcoming general election.[31] On 25 March 2010, she formally resigned from the party and announced that she would be standing as an independent candidate at the general election.[32] As a result, the UUP were left without representation in the House of Commons for the first time since the party's creation.

At the 2010 general election, UCUNF won no seats in Northern Ireland (while Hermon won hers as an independent). The Ulster Conservatives and Unionists – New Force label was not used again. Following the election, Sir Reg Empey resigned as leader. He was replaced by Tom Elliott as party leader in the subsequent leadership election. During the leadership election, it emerged that a quarter of the UUP membership came from Fermanagh and South Tyrone, an area with about 6% of Northern Ireland's population, the constituency of Tom Elliott.[33] The Dublin-based political magazine, the Phoenix, described Elliott as a "blast from the past" and said that his election signified "a significant shift to the right" by the UUP.[34] Shortly after his election, three 2010 general election candidates resigned: Harry Hamilton, Paula Bradshaw and Trevor Ringland.[35] Bradshaw and Hamilton subsequently joined the Alliance Party.[36]

Since 2011

The party further declined in the 2011 Assembly elections (standing again as the UUP). It lost two seats and won fewer votes than the nationalist Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) (although it won more seats than the SDLP) and two of its candidates, Bill Manwaring and Lesley Macaulay, subsequently joined the Conservative Party. In addition, east of the Bann, it lost seats to the Alliance Party. It was also overtaken by Alliance on Belfast City Council.[37] In November 2011, the Conservative Party chairman, Lord Feldman, wrote to Elliott to propose a formal and permanent merger of the two parties. The proposal, which had the backing of David Cameron, would have seen the UUP form the backbone of a new party called the Northern Ireland Conservative and Unionist Party (NICUP). Elliott rejected the merger and called the proposed dissolution of the UUP "unacceptable".[38]

Tom Elliott was criticised for comments he made in his victory speech where he described elements of Sinn Féin as "scum".[39] Elliott resigned in March 2012 saying some people had not given him a 'fair opportunity' to develop and progress many party initiatives.[40] Mike Nesbitt was elected leader on 31 March 2012, beating the only other candidate, John McCallister, by 536 votes to 129.[41]

The Conservatives and the UUP went their separate ways again,[42] with the Northern Ireland Conservatives relaunching as a separate party on 14 June 2012.[43]

Although their MEP seat, held by Jim Nicholson, had its vote percentage decreased slightly in the 2014 European election, the party managed to make gains in the local elections of that same day. They increased their share by 0.9%, making it the only party to increase its vote share, and gaining 15 seats as a result.

At the 2015 general election, the UUP returned to Westminster, gaining the South Antrim seat from the DUP and Fermanagh & South Tyrone (where they had an electoral pact with the DUP not standing) from Sinn Féin.[44]

In the 2016 European Union referendum the UUP supported the remain campaign, the UUP Executive passing a motion on 5 March 2016 that the party "believes that on balance Northern Ireland is better remaining in the European Union, with the U.K. Government pressing for further reform and a return to the founding principle of free trade, not greater political union. The Party respects that individual members may vote for withdrawal."[45][46]

At the 2017 general election the UUP lost both of its Commons seats, losing South Antrim to the DUP and Fermanagh & South Tyrone to Sinn Féin.[47] The party, which saw a significant decrease in its vote share, failed to take any other seats. As such the UUP currently has no representation in the House of Commons.


Image Name Tenure Notes
Photograph of Colonel Edward James Saunderson MP 2 Colonel Edward Saunderson 1905 1906 Also leader of the Irish Unionist Parliamentary Party
Walter Hume Long, 1st Viscount Long portrait Walter Hume Long 1906 1910 Also leader of the Irish Unionist Parliamentary Party
Sir Edward Carson, bw photo portrait seated Sir Edward Carson 1910 1921 Also leader of the Irish Unionist Parliamentary Party
James Craig, 1st Viscount Craigavon The Viscount Craigavon 1921 1940 1st Prime Minister of Northern Ireland
John Miller Andrews John Miller Andrews 1940 1943 2nd Prime Minister of Northern Ireland
The Viscount Brookeborough 1943 1963 3rd Prime Minister of Northern Ireland
Captain Terence O'Neill 1963 1969 4th Prime Minister of Northern Ireland
James Chichester-Clark 1970 James Chichester-Clark 1969 1971 5th Prime Minister of Northern Ireland
Brian Faulkner 1971 1974 6th and final Prime Minister of Northern Ireland
Harry West 1974 1979
James Molyneaux 1979 1995
David Trimble David Trimble 1995 2005 First Minister of Northern Ireland
Official portrait of Lord Empey crop 2 Sir Reg Empey 2005 2010
Tom Elliott Tom Elliott 2010 2012
Mike nesbitt Mike Nesbitt 2012 2017
Robin Swann in Stormont (cropped) Robin Swann 2017 Present


The UUP is still organised around the Ulster Unionist Council, which was from 1905 until 2004 the only legal representation of the party. Following the adoption of a new Constitution in 2004, the UUP has been an entity in its own right, however the UUC still exists as the supreme decision making body of the Party. In autumn 2007 the delegates system was done away with, and today all UUP members are members of the Ulster Unionist Council, with entitlements to vote for the Leader, party officers and on major policy decisions.

Each constituency in Northern Ireland forms the boundary of a UUP constituency association, which is made up of branches formed along local boundaries (usually district electoral areas). There are also four 'representative bodies', the Ulster Women's Unionist Council, the Ulster Young Unionist Council, the Westminster Unionist Association (the party's Great Britain branch) and the Ulster Unionist Councillors Association. Each constituency association and representative body elects a number of delegates to the Executive Committee, which governs many areas of party administration such as membership and candidate selection.

The UUP maintained a formal connection with the Orange Order from its foundation until 2005, and with the Apprentice Boys of Derry until 1975. While the party was considering structural reforms, including the connection with the Order, it was the Order itself that severed the connection in 2004. The connection with the Apprentice Boys was cut in a 1975 review of the party's structure as they had not taken up their delegates for several years beforehand.

Youth wing

The UUP's youth wing is the Young Unionists, first formed in 2004 as a rebrand of the Ulster Young Unionist Council, which formed in 1946. Many of its members have stayed with the party, such as the present leader of the UUP. Others have left to start other Unionist parties. Having disbanded twice, in 1974 and 2004, the Council was re-constituted by young activists in March 2004. This resulted in the Young Unionists (YU) becoming a representative body of the UUP and subject to its revamp of their Constitution.


Parliament of the United Kingdom

Members of the House of Commons as of June 2017: The UUP lost its two seats in the 2017 election. South Antrim went to the DUP while Fermanagh and South Tyrone went to Sinn Féin

Members of the House of Lords as of June 2017:

Northern Ireland Assembly

Members of the Northern Ireland Assembly as elected in March 2017:

European Parliament

Members elected in 2014:

Party leadership

Party spokesmen

The current Party spokesman are:[48]

Responsibility Name
Executive Office Mike Nesbitt MLA
Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs Robin Swann MLA
Communities Andy Allen MLA
Education Rosemary Barton MLA
Economy Alan Chambers MLA
Finance Steve Aiken MLA
Health Roy Beggs Jnr MLA
Infrastructure John Stewart MLA
Justice Doug Beattie MC MLA
Policing Alan Chambers MLA
Mental Health Robbie Butler MLA
Welfare Robbie Butler MLA

Party officers

The current party officers are:

Classification Name
Leader Robin Swann MLA
Party President May Steele
Party Chairman Lord Empey
Party Vice Chairman Rodney McCune
Assembly Group Leader Steve Aiken MLA
Westminster Leader Lord Rogan
Party Treasurer Ald Mark Cosgrove
Chairman of the Councillors' Association Cllr Sam Nicholson
Member of the European Parliament Jim Nicholson MEP
Leader's Nominee Tom Elliott
Leader's Nominee Jenny Palmer
Members' Nominee George White
Members' Nominee Joshua Lowery
Members' Nominee Sandra Overend

Electoral performance


Northern Ireland election seats 1997-2017
Map showing seat results in Northern Ireland Westminster elections 1997–2017
Election House of Commons Share of votes Seats +/- Outcome
1922 32nd 57.2%
10 / 13
Increase 10 Government (with Conservative)
1923 33rd 49.4%
10 / 13
Steady Opposition
1924 34th 83.8%
10 / 13
Steady Government (with Conservative)
1929 35th 68.0%
9 / 13
Decrease 1 Opposition
1931 36th 56.1%
11 / 13
Increase 2 National government
1935 37th 64.9%
9 / 13
Decrease 2 National government
1945 38th 61.0%
9 / 13
Steady Opposition
1950 39th 62.8%
10 / 12
Increase 1 Opposition
1951 40th 59.4%
9 / 12
Decrease 1 Government (with Conservative)
1955 41st 68.5%
10 / 12
Increase 1 Government (with Conservative)
1959 42nd 77.2%
12 / 12
Increase 2 Government (with Conservative)
1964 43rd 63.2%
12 / 12
Steady Opposition
1966 44th 61.8%
9 / 12
Decrease 3 Opposition
1970 45th 54.3%
8 / 12
Government (with Conservative) until end of 1973, when whip and alliance with Conservative withdrawn caused snap election.
Feb 1974 46th 32.3%
7 / 12
Decrease 1 Opposition
Oct 1974 47th 36.5%
6 / 12
Decrease 1 Opposition
1979 48th 36.6%
5 / 12
Decrease 1 Opposition
1983 49th 34.0%
11 / 17
Increase 6 Opposition
1987 50th 37.8%
9 / 17
Decrease 2 Opposition
1992 51st 34.5%
9 / 17
Steady Opposition
1997 52nd 32.7%
10 / 18
Increase 1 Opposition
2001 53rd 26.7%
6 / 18
Decrease 4 Opposition
2005 54th 17.7%
1 / 18
Decrease 5 Opposition
2010 55th 15.2%
0 / 18
Decrease 1 N/A
2015 56th 16.0%
2 / 18
Increase 2 Opposition
2017 57th 10.3%
0 / 18
Decrease 2 N/A


Election Body First preference votes Vote % Seats Outcome
1921 1st Parliament 343,347 66.9%
40 / 52
UUP majority
1925 2nd Parliament 211,662 55.0%
32 / 52
UUP majority
1929 3rd Parliament 148,579 50.8%
37 / 52
UUP majority
1933 4th Parliament 73,791 43.5%
36 / 52
UUP majority
1938 5th Parliament 187,684 56.8%
39 / 52
UUP majority
1945 6th Parliament 180,342 50.4%
33 / 52
UUP majority
1949 7th Parliament 237,411 62.7%
37 / 52
UUP majority
1953 8th Parliament 125,379 48.6%
38 / 52
UUP majority
1958 9th Parliament 106,177 44.0%
37 / 52
UUP majority
1962 10th Parliament 147,629 48.8%
34 / 52
UUP majority
1965 11th Parliament 191,896 59.1%
36 / 52
UUP majority
1969 12th Parliament 269,501 48.2%
36 / 52
UUP majority
1973 1973 Assembly 258,790 35.8%
31 / 78
Largest party; coalition with SDLP and Alliance Party of Northern Ireland
1975 Constitutional Convention 167,214 25.4%
19 / 78
Largest party
1982 1982 Assembly 188,277 29.7%
26 / 78
Largest party
1996 Forum 181,829 24.2%
30 / 110
Largest party
1998 1st Assembly 172,225 21.3%
28 / 108
Largest party; coalition
2003 2nd Assembly 156,931 22.7%
27 / 108
Direct rule
2007 3rd Assembly 103,145 14.9%
18 / 108
2011 4th Assembly 87,531 13.2%
16 / 108
2016 5th Assembly 87,302 12.6%
16 / 108
2017 6th Assembly 103,314 12.9%
10 / 90

Local government

Election First-preference vote Vote % Seats
1973 255,187 17.0%
194 / 517
1977 166,971 30.0%
176 / 526
1981 175,965 26.4%
151 / 526
1985 188,497 29.5%
189 / 565
1989 193,064 31.3%
194 / 565
1993 184,082 29.0%
197 / 582
1997 175,036 28.0%
185 / 575
2001 181,336 23.0%
154 / 582
2005 126,317 18.0%
115 / 582
2011 100,643 15.2%
99 / 583
2014 101,385 16.1%
88 / 462
2019 95,320 14.1%
75 / 462

European Parliament

Election First-preference vote Vote % Seats
1979 125,169 21.9%
1 / 3
1984 147,169 21.5%
1 / 3
1989 118,785 22.0%
1 / 3
1994 133,459 22.8%
1 / 3
1999 119,507 17.6%
1 / 3
2004 91,164 16.6%
1 / 3
2009 82,892 17.0%
1 / 3
2014 83,438 13.3%
1 / 3
2019 53,052 9.26%
0 / 3

See also


  1. ^ a b Nordsieck, Wolfram (2017). "Northern Ireland/UK". Parties and Elections in Europe. Retrieved 28 September 2018.
  2. ^ "Nesbitt says NI needs liberal progressive politicians". Belfast Newsletter.
  3. ^ Ari-Veikko Anttiroiko; Matti Mälkiä (2007). Encyclopedia of Digital Government. Idea Group Inc (IGI). pp. 394–. ISBN 978-1-59140-790-4.
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  7. ^ "Ulster Unionist Party". Politics 97. BBC. 1997. Retrieved 17 June 2016.
  8. ^ "Ulster Unionist Party confirm Robin Swann as new leader" BBC News, 8 April 2017, accessed 11 April 2017; "Ulster Unionist leader Mike Nesbitt is to resign". BBC. 2 March 2017. Retrieved 2 March 2017.
  9. ^ John Harbinson (1973) The Ulster Unionist Party, 1882–1973. Belfast: Blackstaff Press ISBN 0-85640-007-6
  10. ^ http://www.sneps.net/wp-content/uploads/2011/09/1-Dominant-Ethnicity-demography-and-conflict_revision-Dec2010.pdf
  11. ^ "A Tragedy of Errors".
  12. ^ https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/ira/conflict/civil.html
  13. ^ "Human Rights as War by Other Means".
  14. ^ "Northern Ireland".
  15. ^ "BBC - History - The Troubles, 1963 to 1985".
  16. ^ Dan Keohane (2000), Security in British Politics 1945-99, p. 183.
  17. ^ Stuart Bell and Anthony Seldon, The Heath Government 1970-74: A Reappraisal.
  18. ^ "What is the UVF?". BBC News. 14 September 2005. Retrieved 9 April 2010.
  19. ^ McDonald, Henry (8 January 2007). "David Ervine". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 9 April 2010.
  20. ^ Federation of American Scientists Archived 5 July 2007 at the Wayback Machine
  21. ^ McKittrick, David (26 July 2005). "Feuding loyalists bring the fear back to Belfast". The Independent. London. Retrieved 9 April 2010.
  22. ^ "MIPT Terrorism Knowledge Base".
  23. ^ "Row as Ervine joins UUP grouping". BBC News. 15 May 2006. Archived from the original on 8 March 2008. Retrieved 9 April 2010.
  24. ^ "MP 'distressed' over Ervine move". BBC News. 17 May 2006. Retrieved 9 April 2010.
  25. ^ "UUP-PUP link 'against the rules'". BBC News. 11 September 2006. Retrieved 9 April 2010.
  26. ^ DUP top in NI assembly election, BBC News Online, 12 March 2007.
  27. ^ "Lady Hermon under 'no pressure'". BBC News. 27 February 2009. Retrieved 27 March 2010.
  28. ^ Devenport, Mark (12 May 2009). "Profile: Jim Nicholson". BBC News Online. Retrieved 30 May 2009.
  29. ^ David Cameron launches biggest Conservative shake-up for decades The Daily Telegraph (London), 23 July 2008.
  30. ^ Hermon: why she rejected Tory deal Belfast Telegraph, 14 May 2009.
  31. ^ UUP MP Lady Sylvia Hermon rejects UCUNF candidacy BBC News, 23 February 2010.
  32. ^ MP Lady Sylvia Hermon quits Ulster Unionists BBC News, 25 March 2010.
  33. ^ "Legal threat to the UUP leadership race ebbs". Belfast Telegraph. 17 September 2010. Retrieved 16 January 2015.
  34. ^ "Phoenix Magazine - Subscriber - Login" (PDF).
  35. ^ "Troubled backdrop to UUP conference".
  36. ^ "Queen tribute singer Harry Hamilton with Alliance Party". BBC News. 14 January 2011.
  37. ^ "'Magnificent' council result for Alliance". u.tv.
  38. ^ "Conservatives want UUP to disband and form new Tory-led party". BBC News. 11 November 2011.
  39. ^ "DUP and Sinn Féin top polls in NI Assembly elections". The Irish Times. 5 May 2011.
  40. ^ Purdy, Martina (9 March 2012). "UUP leader Tom Elliott quitting as party leader". BBC News Online. Retrieved 11 January 2016.
  41. ^ "Mike Nesbitt is new Ulster Unionist leader". BBC News Online. 31 March 2012. Retrieved 11 January 2016.
  42. ^ "Can rebranded Northern Ireland Conservatives deliver?". BBC News. 14 June 2012.
  43. ^ Polley, Owen (14 June 2012). "NI Conservatives launch as fresh, centre-right party, in Belfast". NI Conservatives. Belfast. Retrieved 15 June 2012.
  44. ^ "Election 2015 results: Northern Ireland". BBC News. 6 May 2015.
  45. ^ Ulster Unionist Party. "Statement from the Ulster Unionist Party on EU Referendum". Ulster Unionist Party. Retrieved 5 March 2016.
  46. ^ "Ulster Unionist Party supports staying in EU". Belfast Telegraph. 5 March 2016.
  47. ^ "Election 2017 results: Northern Ireland". BBC News. 9 June 2017.
  48. ^ Our People - MLAs Ulster Unionist Party

External links

1971 Ulster Unionist Party leadership election

The 1971 Ulster Unionist Party leadership election was caused by the resignation of James Chichester-Clark, after he had failed to persuade the British Government to provide his government with more resources to quell the growing civil unrest.

1974 Ulster Unionist Party leadership election

The 1974 Ulster Unionist Party leadership election took place on 22 January 1974, as a result of incumbent Brian Faulkner's resignation on 7 January 1974 because of difficulty in achieving agreement to the setting up of an all-Ireland council. The election resulted in Harry West succeeding Faulkner as Leader of the UUP.

1979 Ulster Unionist Party leadership election

The 1979 Ulster Unionist Party leadership election saw James Molyneaux succeed Harry West as leader on 7 September. At a specially convened meeting of the Ulster Unionist Council at the Ulster Hall, Belfast, in early September, Molyneaux (MP for South Antrim) beat Reverend Robert Bradford (MP for Belfast South) by a three to one majority (with Austin Ardill coming a distant third). Molyneaux had previously been parliamentary leader of the United Ulster Unionist Council since 22 October 1974 (West had lost his seat in that month's general election).

2010 Ulster Unionist Party leadership election

An election for the leadership of the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) was held on 22 September 2010.

2017 Ulster Unionist Party leadership election

An election for the leadership of the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) was held on 8 April 2017 at the party's Annual General Meeting. Elections are held each year, with the incumbent usually reelected unopposed. The 2017 contested election was triggered after incumbent Leader Mike Nesbitt, elected in 2012, announced following the 2017 Assembly election his intention to step down as party leader. While initially, Robin Swann and Steve Aiken were expected to run against each other (with candidacies by Doug Beattie, Robbie Butler and Roy Beggs Jr. also considered possible), in the end only Swann ran and was elected unopposed.

Basil Brooke, 1st Viscount Brookeborough

Basil Stanlake Brooke, 1st Viscount Brookeborough, (9 June 1888 – 18 August 1973), styled as Sir Basil Brooke, 5th Baronet, from 1907–52, was an Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) politician who became the third Prime Minister of Northern Ireland in May 1943, holding office until March 1963.

Lord Brookeborough had previously held several ministerial positions in the Government of Northern Ireland, and has been described as "perhaps the last Unionist leader to command respect, loyalty and affection across the social and political spectrum of the movement". He has also been described as one of the most hardline anti-Catholic leaders of the UUP.

David Trimble

William David Trimble, Baron Trimble, PC (born 15 October 1944), is a Northern Irish politician who was the first First Minister of Northern Ireland from 1998 to 2002, and the leader of the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) from 1995 to 2005. He was also the Member of Parliament for Upper Bann from 1990 to 2005 and the Member of the Legislative Assembly (MLA) for Upper Bann from 1998 to 2007. In 2006, he was made a life peer in the House of Lords and a year later left the UUP to join the Conservative Party.

Trimble began his career as a Professor of Law at The Queen's University of Belfast in the 1970s, during which time he began to get involved with the paramilitary-linked Vanguard Progressive Unionist Party. He was elected to the Northern Ireland Constitutional Convention in 1975, and joined the UUP in 1978 after the VPUP disbanded. Remaining at Queen's University, he continued his academic career until being elected as the MP for Upper Bann in 1990. In 1995 he was unexpectedly elected as the leader of the UUP. He was instrumental in the negotiations that led to the Good Friday Agreement in 1998, and (along with John Hume) won the Nobel Peace Prize that year for his efforts. He was later elected to become the first First Minister of Northern Ireland, although his tenure was turbulent and frequently interrupted by disagreements over the timetable for Provisional Irish Republican Army decommissioning.

After being defeated at the 2005 general election, Trimble resigned the leadership of the UUP soon afterwards. In June 2006, he accepted a life peerage in the House of Lords, taking the title of Baron Trimble, of Lisnagarvey in the County of Antrim. He did not stand again for the Assembly, which finally reconvened in 2007, instead leaving the UUP to join the Conservative Party.

Jack Allen (politician)

Jack Allen is a former politician in Northern Ireland. Working as a businessman, Allen became a member of the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP). He was elected to Londonderry City Council. In 1974-75, he served as Mayor of Derry.Allen was elected to the Northern Ireland Assembly, 1982, representing Londonderry. The following year, he became the Honorary Treasurer of the UUP. In June 1984, Allen was appointed to the prominent role of Chairman of the Devolution Report Committee within the Assembly.

In this position, he wrote three times to leader of the Social Democratic and Labour Party John Hume proposing discussions, but was rebuffed. In 1984, amid a dispute about the name of the city council, Allen was defeated in a by-election for a ward on the city council.Allen headed the UUP list in Foyle for the Northern Ireland Forum election of 1996, but failed to be elected. At the 1998 Northern Ireland Assembly election, he was again unsuccessful in Foyle, despite coming fourth on first preference votes in the six seat constituency. During this period, he was the chairman of the Foyle Ulster Unionist constituency association.Allen stood down as UUP treasurer in 2005, citing ill health.

James Molyneaux, Baron Molyneaux of Killead

James Henry Molyneaux, Baron Molyneaux of Killead, KBE, PC (27 August 1920 – 9 March 2015), often known as Jim Molyneaux, was a Northern Irish unionist politician, and leader of the Ulster Unionist Party from 1979 to 1995. He was a leading member and sometime Vice-President of the Conservative Monday Club. An Orangeman, he was also Sovereign Grand Master of the Royal Black Institution from 1971 to 1995.

Jim Rodgers (politician)

Jim Rodgers OBE is a politician from Northern Ireland who was previously the High Sheriff of Belfast, (succeeded by Incumbent Alderman Thomas Haire 16 January 2017) the judicial representative of the sovereign in Belfast. He is an elected Councillor and appointed Alderman at Belfast City Council.

John Taylor, Baron Kilclooney

John David Taylor, Baron Kilclooney, PC (NI) (born 24 December 1937), is a former Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) Northern Irish MP and a life peer. He was born in Armagh in Northern Ireland. He was deputy leader of the UUP from 1995 to 2001, and a member of the Northern Ireland Assembly.

Leaders of the Ulster Unionist Party

The Leader of the Ulster Unionist Party is the most senior position within the party ranks. Since 2017 the leader has been former Chief Whip Robin Swann MLA. He was elected to the Northern Ireland Assembly in 2011 & was re-elected in the 2016 & 2017 Assembly Elections.

List of Ulster Unionist Party MPs

This is a list of Ulster Unionist Party MPs. It includes all Members of Parliament elected to the British House of Commons representing the Ulster Unionist Party or its forerunner, the Irish Unionist Party, since 1918. Members of the European Parliament, the Northern Ireland House of Commons or the Northern Ireland Assembly are not listed.

List of Ulster Unionist Party Peers

This is a list of sitting Members of the United Kingdom House of Lords who were born, live or lived in Northern Ireland and had links to the Ulster Unionist Party.

This list does not include hereditary peers who have lost their seat in the Lords following the House of Lords Act 1999, or those in the Peerage of Ireland, who have never had an automatic right to a seat in the House of Lords at Westminster.Note: There is no such thing as the Peerage of Northern Ireland and peers do not represent geographic areas as such. Some do, however, choose titles which reflect geographical localities, e.g. Lord Kilclooney, this is, however, entirely nominal.

March 1995 Ulster Unionist Party leadership election

The March 1995 Ulster Unionist Party leadership election occurred at the Annual General Meeting of the Ulster Unionist Council on 18 March 1995. The UUP has had a leadership election every March since at least 1973, and this is one of the few occasions when it has been contested. James Molyneaux was re-elected as Leader with 86% of the votes.

Reg Empey

Reginald Norman Morgan Empey, Baron Empey (born 26 October 1947), best known as Reg Empey, is a British politician who was the leader of the Ulster Unionist Party from 2005 to 2010, and has been its chairman since 2012. Empey was also twice Lord Mayor of Belfast and was a Member of the Legislative Assembly for East Belfast from 1998 to 2011.

September 1995 Ulster Unionist Party leadership election

The September 1995 Ulster Unionist Party leadership election began on 28 August 1995 when James Molyneaux resigned as leader of the Ulster Unionist Party following a year of political setbacks for his party. Lee Reynolds, a Young Unionist had contested the leadership at the Ulster Unionist Council AGM in March 1995, receiving a small but significant number of votes. It was widely speculated that David Trimble was one of those behind Reynolds's candidature, although Trimble, his aides and Reynolds's supporters all denied this at the time and subsequently.[1]The UUP has held a leadership election every March since at least the Ulster Unionist Council constitution was altered in 1973, however it is rarely contested.

Molyneaux's successor was elected by delegates to the Ulster Unionist Council met on 8 September 1995. After three rounds of voting the election was won by David Trimble.

Young Unionists

Not to be confused with Young Unionists, the youth wing of the defunct Unionist Party (Scotland).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.

Ulster Unionist Party
Deputy Leaders
General Secretary
Leadership elections
Organisational structure
History and related organisations
Other topics


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