The Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) is a unionist political party in Northern Ireland. Ian Paisley founded the DUP on September 30, 1971, during the Troubles, and led the party for the next 37 years.
The DUP evolved from the Protestant Unionist Party and has historically strong links to the Free Presbyterian Church of Ulster, the church Paisley founded. During the Troubles, the DUP opposed attempts to resolve the conflict that would involve sharing power with Irish nationalists or republicans, and rejected attempts to involve the Republic of Ireland in Northern Irish affairs. It campaigned against the Sunningdale Agreement of 1973, the Anglo-Irish Agreement of 1985, and the Good Friday Agreement of 1998. In the 1980s, the party was involved in setting up the paramilitary movements Third Force and Ulster Resistance.
It is right-wing and socially conservative, being anti-abortion and opposing same-sex marriage. The DUP sees itself as defending Britishness and Ulster Protestant culture against Irish nationalism. The party is Eurosceptic and during the UK European Union (EU) referendum it supported the UK’s withdrawal from the EU.
For most of the DUP’s history, the Ulster Unionist Party was the largest unionist party in Northern Ireland, but by 2004 the DUP had overtaken the UUP in terms of seats in the Northern Ireland Assembly and Parliament.