Jeffrey Donaldson

Jeffrey Donaldson bigraphy, stories - British politician

Jeffrey Donaldson : biography

7 December 1962 –

Jeffrey Mark Donaldson, MP (born 7 December 1962) is a Northern Irish politician and Member of Parliament for Lagan Valley belonging to 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.


  • 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-)

Personal life

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

Early life

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.

Political career

Entering politics

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.

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".English, R. (2003) Armed Struggle: The History of the IRA, Oxford University Press, USA, p.373

Donaldson attained the rank of corporal in the Ulster Defence Regiment.

Role in the Peace Process

In 1998 Donaldson was in the Ulster Unionists’ negotiating team for the Good Friday Agreement. 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 decommission.

Dissent in the UUP

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., BBC News, 26 June 2003. 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 election Assembly election of 2003, he reiterated his call for Trimble’s immediate resignation, 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 Democratic Unionist Party (DUP).

Donaldson as DUP member

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.

In 2009, 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 Vatican.

Donaldson was appointed to Government by First Minister Peter Robinson, and held the position of Junior Minister in the Office of the FM from 2008 to 2009. He lost his position as part of the DUPs phasing out of "double jobbing". This action has indicated that he will more than likely concentrate on being an MP. Following his re-election to the House of Commons in May 2010, Donaldson stood down from the Northern Irish Assembly, with Paul Givan replacing him.

Involvement in the MPs’ expenses scandal

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.