They might be intensely, and even understandably, disliked by many
nationalists but there's no stopping the DUP. With half the North's
Westminster seats and 34% of the vote, they're the runaway voice of
Most Catholics have little personal contact with them and they're an unknown
quantity to the Irish government. The Taoiseach is said to be intrigued,
particularly by the Rev Ian Paisley.
His party's nine MPs, who arrived in the House of Commons in some style last
week, are a mixed and fairly lively bunch. The DUP is many things but it's
Nigel Dodds reckons new babies won votes for Mark Durkan and Liberal
Democrat leader Charles Kennedy.
Wife Diane is warned that, if Sinn Féin threatens to snatch North Belfast
next election, she must "take full advantage of modern technology" to
produce a baby for the campaign trail.
"I've done my bit for God and Ulster, I'm not doing that!" replies the
Shankill Assemblywoman. A Cambridge graduate and former barrister, Dodds,
46, has a strong rapport with Paisley.
This, and his Free Presbyterianism, mean he could be a future party leader.
More cautious than Peter Robinson, he is also a very sharp operator. In
1996, the IRA tried to kill him while visiting his son in hospital. Andrew,
who had Spina Bifida, later died.
Jeffrey Donaldson doesn't mind being called the DUP's Daniel O'Donnell. His
mother loves the singer so the MP regularly refers to "his cousin from
His defection to the DUP hugely helped his new party among middle-class
unionists. His approach is the antithesis to the DUP's traditional
blood-and-thunder style. Donaldson, 42, is unfailingly polite to opponents.
Born in the fishing village of Kilkeel, Co Down, he now lives in Dromore and
misses the sea. Two police officer cousins were killed by the IRA.
Donaldson joined the UDR and the Young Unionists at 18.
A former engineer, he is a workaholic with no hobbies outside politics. He
is married with two daughters.
Gregory Campbell's hardline law-and-order stance means that while he loves
watching 'The Bill', he demands changes to the programme. "I want more
baddies caught," he says.
Campbell, who justifies Bloody Sunday, knows he arouses strong emotions:
"Sinn Féin councillor Barney O'Hagan, who had threatened to rip my head off
a while back, just lost his seat.
"I wondered if this represented his community moving away from violence. I
was informed nationalists were punishing him for not carrying out the
Campbell, 52, a Glasgow Rangers' supporter, formerly owned a publishing
company which specialised in Ulster-Scots books. He enjoys country music
"although more Alan Jackson than Tammy Wynette".
Large and tanned with an easy charm, David Simpson resembles a politician in
California more than one in middle Ulster.
A Free Presbyterian gospel singer, he is a millionaire from meat processing.
Strongly anti-racist, he has three adopted teenage children from India and
As Mayor of Craigavon, his pragmatic inclusive approach impressed some
Catholics who previously distrusted the DUP. Simpson, 46, will turn his
hand to anything, even bin-collecting for a day.
A down-to-earth man, he is hard to dislike. He spent the weekend after his
election victory "cutting the grass, driving the kids around and enjoying a
big Chinese". He was once a proficient horse-rider - "it was a very large
Anybody in the DUP who makes a mistake is warned by colleagues: "Expect a
phone call from Peter Robinson".
The party's deputy leader is more approachable than his ruthless reputation
suggests. Formality with strangers is due to shyness.
Robinson, 56, is a gadget geek, "you name it, I've got it". He has 1,000
Japanese koi fish and the same number of ties. He likes dancing (badly) and
The outstanding strategist in Northern politics, he leaves even Sinn Féin's
movers and shakers miles behind. More than anyone, he can take credit for
Too much the moderniser for some, he is nevertheless Paisley's natural
successor, having been the Big Man's bridesmaid for 23 years.
Iris Robinson loves driving fast on the motorway in her black-and-white
mini, "although always within the speed limit", blasting Abba or Patsy
Not one of the DUP's well-known heavy hitters, her vote (56%) was the
party's best. Her forte is constituency work. Once seriously ill after a
hysterectomy, she continued to work from her sick bed.
Robinson, 56, met husband Peter when they were college teenagers, and still
adores him: "He is my best friend, he is everything to me." Politically,
she is more emotional than him.
They have three grown-up children. She talks openly about suffering
post-natal depression and is passionate about health issues. Her hobby is
The Rev Willie McCrea, who found the Lord when he was eight, practised
preaching by reading gospel tracts while bringing in the cows as a boy.
He retains his homespun charm. His church, originally a zinc hut with a
congregation of 12, is now a showpiece building holding up to 1,000.
The UK's most successful gospel singer, he has received gold, silver and
platinum discs. His three daughters have biblical names and son Ian is
called after Paisley.
McCrea, 57, insists he works hard for Catholic constituents but no DUP-er
inspires more nationalist hate. Sharing a platform with LVF leader Billy
Wright, and a jail sentence for disrupting Mass at Canterbury Cathedral,
DUP wives have jokingly told Sammy Wilson not to lead their husbands astray
Wilson, 51, is the party's wild child, which sounds much more radical than
it is. He prefers nights tending his garden than on the town. He has bought
a book, Walking Tours of London's East End, and can't wait to do them.
Much loved in the DUP, he was the only new MP for whom colleagues organised
a surprise celebratory party. He is more liberal than other DUP-ers.
Very outgoing, he can also spend days alone, with just the radio for
company. He's a big Elton John fan. He once dated Paisley's daughter Rhonda.
In his eightieth year, the Rev Ian Paisley, is peaking politically as
contemporaries wind down in old folks' homes.
The voice is less booming but the spirit stays as strong as ever. A rabble-
rouser to some, Ulster's saviour to others, he can't be accused of
inconsistency - 'No Surrender' remains the message.
He rarely constructs a moderate sentence. Post-Agreement, his career looked
over. "I was treated like a creature that should have died before Noah's
ark. But things have never been better for this dinosaur!"
He still holds wife Eileen's hand in public and, despite his age and
ministry, enjoys harmless flirting with female voters.