Nigel Dodds

The Right Honourable
Nigel Dodds
Member of Parliament
for Belfast North
Assumed office
7 June 2001
Preceded by Cecil Walker
Majority 5,326 (13.1%)
Deputy Leader of the Democratic Unionist Party
Assumed office
Preceded by Peter Robinson
Minister of Finance and Personnel
In office
June 2008  June 2009
Preceded by Peter Robinson
Succeeded by Sammy Wilson
Minister of Enterprise, Trade and Investment
In office
8 May 2007  June 2008
Preceded by Reg Empey
Succeeded by Arlene Foster
Minister for Social Development
In office
2001  October 2002
Preceded by Maurice Morrow
Succeeded by Margaret Ritchie
Minister for Social Development
In office
December 1999  2001
Preceded by Office created
Succeeded by Maurice Morrow
Member of the Northern Ireland Assembly
for Belfast North
In office
25 June 1998  10 September 2010
Preceded by Office created
Succeeded by William Humphrey
Personal details
Born (1958-08-20) 20 August 1958
Derry, Northern Ireland
Nationality British
Political party Democratic Unionist Party
Spouse(s) Diane Dodds
Children 2
Alma mater St John's College, Cambridge, Queen's University Belfast
Occupation Politician
Profession Barrister
Religion Free Presbyterian
Website Official Site

Nigel Alexander Dodds, OBE, MP (born 20 August 1958) is a Northern Irish barrister and unionist politician. He is Member of Parliament (MP) for Belfast North, and deputy leader of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP). He has been Lord Mayor of Belfast twice, and from 1993 has been General Secretary of the DUP.[1]

Since June 2008 he has also been Deputy Leader of the DUP.[2] Dodds became North Belfast's MP in the 2001 UK general elections. He has served in the past as a member of the Northern Ireland Assembly, and as Minister of Finance in the Northern Ireland Executive.


Nigel Dodds was born in Derry, County Londonderry, Northern Ireland.[1] He was educated at Portora Royal School, Enniskillen, County Fermanagh,[3] and studied Law at St John's College, Cambridge, from which he graduated with a first-class degree, and where he won the university scholarship, McMahan studentship and Winfield Prize for Law.[3] Upon graduation, he returned to Northern Ireland and, after studying at the Institute of Professional Legal Studies at Queen's University, Belfast (IPLS), was called to the Northern Irish bar.[4] After working as a barrister, he worked at the Secretariat of the European Parliament from 1984-96.[1]

His father Joe was a long-standing Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) member of Fermanagh District Council until his death in 2008.[5] He is married to DUP MEP Diane Dodds; they have one son and one daughter, and live in Banbridge, County Down.


Dodds entered municipal politics in 1981 when he stood unsuccessfully for the Enniskillen part of Fermanagh District Council.[6] Four years later in 1985, he was elected to Belfast City Council for the religiously and socially mixed Castle electoral area in the north of the city.[7]

He attracted controversy when he and then DUP leader Ian Paisley attended a wake for Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) leader John Bingham.[8]

Dodds soon rose to prominence in the party. He was elected for two one-year terms as Lord Mayor of Belfast in June 1988 (when he became the youngest ever Lord Mayor of Belfast aged 29)[9] and June 1992. The same year, he stood unsuccessfully for the East Antrim constituency in the Westminster election. He was elected to the Northern Ireland Forum in 1996 and topped the poll in North Belfast in all three elections to the reconstituted Northern Ireland Assembly in 1998, 2003 and 2007.[10] Dodds was awarded the OBE in 1997 for services to local government.[3]

North Belfast had historically been strong territory for the DUP, with Johnny McQuade representing the constituency in the British House of Commons from 1979-83. The DUP stood down in favour of the Ulster Unionist Party in Westminster elections in the late 1980s and 1990s, in order to avoid splitting the unionist vote. Then, in 2001, Dodds challenged sitting Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) MP Cecil Walker, despite the danger of losing the mixed constituency to an Irish nationalist. Dodds won just over 40% of the overall vote and with that a 6,387 majority over Sinn Féin's Gerry Kelly, with the incumbent Walker being pushed into fourth place.

Dodds was Minister of Social Development in the Northern Ireland Executive from 21 November 1999 but resigned on 27 July 2000, then served again from 24 October 2001, when the devolved institutions were restored, until he was dismissed from office on 11 October 2002, shortly before the Executive and the Northern Ireland Assembly were collapsed by the UUP.

Dodds is vice-chair of the All Party Parliamentary Flag Group.[11] He was appointed to the Privy Council of the United Kingdom on 9 June 2010.[12]

In a Westminster debate on the issue of governance in association football, Dodds highlighted that footballers born in Northern Ireland often opt to play for the Republic of Ireland national football team instead, saying "action needs to be taken to stop the haemorrhaging of talent from Northern Ireland".[13]

Paramilitary attack

His constituency office was targeted by the Continuity IRA in 2003 when a viable improvised explosive device was left outside the office. The bomb was defused by British Army explosive experts.[14]


In April 2009, after a leaked report showing MPs' expenses, Dodds had the highest expenses of any MP in Northern Ireland, ranking him 13th highest of all UK MPs.[15][16]

12 July 2013 injury

At the Twelfth of July 2013 Orange order parades, Dodds was knocked unconscious at Woodvale Avenue in the Greater Shankill area of North Belfast by a brick thrown by fellow Ulster loyalists rioting against Police Service of Northern Ireland roadblocks. The violence broke out following the decision by the Parades Commission to bar Orangemen from walking past the Irish republican Ardoyne area.[17][18] Dodds had been expelled from the House of Commons chamber for using unparliamentary language by Speaker John Bercow on 10 July 2013, after Dodds had refused to withdraw his accusation that the Conservative Secretary of State for Northern Ireland Theresa Villiers was being "deliberately deceptive" in answering questions about her powers in respect of what he called the "outrageous" Parades Commission ruling.[19]


  1. 1 2 3 Northern Ireland Assembly Information Office (20 August 1958). "NI Assembly profile". Retrieved 26 November 2010.
  2. Angela Balakrishnan and agencies (14 April 2008). "Dodds will be DUP deputy". London, UK: Guardian. Retrieved 26 November 2010.
  3. 1 2 3 Debrett's People of Today
  4. "Stratagem profile". Retrieved 26 November 2010.
  5. DUP profile Archived 7 April 2007 at the Wayback Machine.
  6. "Fermanagh 1981 election". Retrieved 2010-11-26.
  7. "Belfast 1985 local election". Retrieved 26 November 2010.
  8. Profile,; accessed 12 August 2015.
  9. "BBC profile". BBC News. 7 May 2007. Retrieved 26 November 2010.
  10. Northern Irish Assembly election info,; accessed 12 August 2015.
  11. UK Parliament - Register of All Party Groups Archived 19 November 2007 at the Wayback Machine.
  12. "Privy Council appointments". Privy Council. 9 June 2010. Retrieved 26 July 2010.
  13. Walker, Stephen. "BBC News - Nigel Dodds calls for talks over football eligibility". BBC News. BBC News. Retrieved 29 August 2012.
  14. Bomb defused at MP's office,; accessed 12 August 2015.
  15. "Dodds' expenses bill NI's highest". BBC News. 1 April 2009.
  16. "Nigel Dodds MP, Belfast North, former MLA, Belfast North". Retrieved 8 May 2015.
  17. Clashes in Belfast following Twelfth of July parades - as it happened
  18. Police and MP Nigel Dodds injured in Belfast riots,; accessed 12 August 2015.
  19. Nigel Dodds expelled from Commons chamber,; accessed 12 August 2015.

External links

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