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DUP veteran Nigel Dodds given peerage

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Nigel Dodds (Liam McBurney/PA)

Nigel Dodds (Liam McBurney/PA)

Nigel Dodds (Liam McBurney/PA)

DUP stalwart Nigel Dodds has been given a peerage and will take up a seat in the House of Lords.

Mr Dodds served as North Belfast MP for 18 years until losing his seat to Sinn Fein's John Finucane last December.

A key player in the DUP over the past 30 years, Mr Dodds led the party in the House of Commons during their confidence and supply agreement with Theresa May's Government.

Mr Dodds is also credited in playing a key role in the 'Leave' campaign during the 2016 Brexit referendum.

The DUP veteran also survived an IRA assassination attempt in December 1996 while visiting his ill son at the Royal Children's Hospital in west Belfast.

He will be joined in the House of Lords by Northern Ireland-born former Labour MP Kate Hoey.

During a long and distinguished political career Mr Dodds also served as an councilor, Lord Mayor of Belfast, MLA and Minister in various Stormont departments.

He also served as deputy leader of the DUP and his wife Diane currently serves as Stormont's Economy Minister.

Mr Dodds said he was "very honoured and humbled" to be elevated to the Lords.

He will join fellow DUP peers Wallace Browne, Willie Hay, William McCrae and Maurice Morrow.

It's not yet known what title Mr Dodds will use as a Lord.

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Nigel Dodds and Arlene Foster with Boris Johnson at the 2018 DUP conference

Nigel Dodds and Arlene Foster with Boris Johnson at the 2018 DUP conference

Nigel Dodds and Arlene Foster with Boris Johnson at the 2018 DUP conference

He thanked friends and colleagues for their support over the years.

"Throughout my political career I have always endeavoured to represent all of my constituents to the very best of my ability in whatever forum I have had the honour to serve," Mr Dodds said.

"At this new juncture of my career I am pleased to have the opportunity to continue to serve the people of Northern Ireland in Parliament."

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Theresa May in Downing Street with the DUP’s Nigel Dodds, Arlene Foster and Jeffrey Donaldson

Theresa May in Downing Street with the DUP’s Nigel Dodds, Arlene Foster and Jeffrey Donaldson

Theresa May in Downing Street with the DUP’s Nigel Dodds, Arlene Foster and Jeffrey Donaldson

The former north Belfast MLA said he was delighted to be continuing to play a role in political life.

"Our nation is confronting some of the greatest challenges we have ever faced. There are very important issues which we in Northern Ireland must continue to work through, building on the progress our society has made since I first entered politics," Mr Dodds said.

"In all of my work my aim will be to make a positive contribution to keep Northern Ireland moving forward.”

First Minister Arlene Foster led the tributes to Mr Dodds.

“On behalf of our party and indeed the many people across Northern Ireland to whom Nigel Dodds has served, I am delighted that he has been recognised in this dissolution list. Nigel Dodds has spent the majority of his working life serving the public in Northern Ireland as an elected representative at every level," the DUP leader said.

"He is widely recognised and respected throughout Northern Ireland and beyond for his record of public service and his strong advocacy for the Union and Northern Ireland’s place within it, serving the public through various elected positions for thirty-four years.

"My warmest and best wishes to Nigel, Diane and the family, especially Nigel’s mum, Doreen who will be justifiably proud of her son.”

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Nigel with wife Diane and children Mark, Andrew and Robyn in 1997

Nigel with wife Diane and children Mark, Andrew and Robyn in 1997

Nigel with wife Diane and children Mark, Andrew and Robyn in 1997

Former Northern Ireland Secretary of State Julian Smith also offered his congratulations.

"He will give significant heft and voice for the interests of Northern Ireland over the coming months and years," Mr Smith said.

Mr Dodds was first elected to Belfast City Council in 1985 and served on the council for 25 years.

He served as Lord Mayor in 1988-89 and 1991-92, becoming the youngest person to hold the post.

During twelve years as an MLA he served in the Executive as Minister for Social Development and later as Minister of Enterprise, Trade and Investment and Minister of Finance and Personnel.

Belfast Telegraph