Belfast Telegraph

General Election 2019

DUP veteran Nigel Dodds could make a rapid return to NI politics

Nigel Dodds
Nigel Dodds
Claire McNeilly

By Claire McNeilly

DUP deputy leader - and the party's leader in the House of Commons - Nigel Dodds was North Belfast's MP for 18 years, having taken the seat from Cecil Walker in a devastating blow to the Ulster Unionist Party in 2001.

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The 61-year-old barrister, known for keeping a low public profile, has always steered clear of controversy and has been a key strategist within the DUP, particularly since he took up the Westminster reins in 2010.

Don't be surprised therefore if he makes a rapid return to front-line politics; there is, after all, a DUP MLA place up for grabs in Upper Bann - where he lives - now that party colleague Carla Lockhart has become an MP.

Born in Londonderry, the father-of-two, who is married to MEP Diane Dodds, was educated at Portora Royal School and St John's College, Cambridge, where he graduated with a First in Law.

The couple now have two children (a son and daughter), having lost another son, Andrew, 21 years ago. Tragedy hit the Dodds family when nine-year-old Andrew, who had been suffering from spina bifida and hydrocephalus, died after a long battle in 1998.

Mr Dodds has previously described his son as a "bright and cheerful boy" saying: "The lives of those who came into contact with him were enriched, and our lives were certainly enriched by having him."

First elected in 1985, Mr Dodds has been subjected to numerous attacks over the years and in December 1996, the IRA attempted to kill him. An RUC officer was injured when the gunmen fired at police guarding Mr Dodds when he was visiting his seriously ill son at the Royal Children's Hospital in west Belfast.

Mr Dodds' constituency office was also targeted by the Continuity IRA in 2003 when a viable improvised explosive device was left outside the office. The bomb was later defused by the Army.

He was also rushed to Belfast's Royal Victoria Hospital in 2013 after he was struck in the head with a brick and knocked unconscious for 10 minutes when violence erupted in north Belfast.

In 2007 it emerged that Mr Dodds had claimed the most expenses compared to the rest of Northern Ireland's MPs.

John Finucane at the General Election count in Belfast on December 12th 2019 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)
John Finucane at the General Election count in Belfast on December 12th 2019 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)
Nigel Dodds during the General Election count in Belfast on December 12th 2019 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)
SDLP's Claire Hanna wins a seat in South Belfast at the General Election Count at the Titanic Exhibition Centre in Belfast during the Early hours of Friday morning. Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker
Emma Pengelly and Arlene Foster during the General Election count in Belfast on December 12th 2019 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)
SDLP Leader Colum Eastwood is elected MP (Niall Carson/PA)
Sinn Fein's Elisha McCallion pictured at the count centre in Meadowbank Sports Arena, Magherafelt. Picture By: Arthur Allison/Pacemaker Press
Stephen Farry of the Alliance Party with party leader Naomi Long after he won the North Down constituency in the UK General Election at the Aurora Aquatic and Leisure Complex, Bangor, Northern Ireland. Michael Cooper/PA Wire
Alex Easton, DUP pictured at the count centre in Bangor. Photo by Brian Little / Press Eye
Gavin Robinson with his wife Lindsey and party leader Arlene Foster pictured at the count centre. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
Naomi Long during the General Election count in Belfast on December 12th 2019 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)
Michelle O'Neill and Paul Maskey pictured at the count centre. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
Election count at Titanic Exhibition Centre, Belfast for Belfast East, Belfast South, Belfast West, Belfast North, East Antrim & South Down. Sammy Wilson pictured at the count centre. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
Steve Aiken pictured at the count centre. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
The DUP’s Gregory Campbell is returned s MP for East Londonderry. Photo by Jonathan Porter / Press Eye.
Sinn Fein's Michelle Gildernew pictured with Michelle ONeill at the count centre in Omagh after winning the Fermanagh and South Tyrone seat. Photo by Stephen Hamilton / Press Eye.
UUP Tom Elliott pictured at the count centre in Omagh. Photo by Stephen Hamilton / Press Eye.
Sir Jeffrey Donaldson has held his seat in Lagan Valley pictured at the count centre in Meadowbank Sports Arena, Magherafelt. Picture By: Arthur Allison/Pacemaker Press
Sinn Féin Francie Molloy is returned as MP for Mid Ulster. Photo by Jonathan Porter / Press Eye.
Sinn Fein's Mickey Brady(centre) is returned as MP for Newry and Armagh. Photo by Jonathan Porter / Press Eye.
The DUP's Ian Paisley (left) is returned as MP for North Antrim. Photo by Jonathan Porter / Press Eye.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 12th December 2019 General Election 2019 - Election count at Meadowbank Sports Arena, Magherafelt for Newry & Armagh, South Antrim, North Antrim, Upper Bann, East Londonderry, Foyle, Lagan Valley and Mid Ulster. The DUPÕs Paul Girvan(left) is returned as MP for South Antrim. Photo by Jonathan Porter / Press Eye.
Chris Hassard, centre, pictured at the count centre. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 12th December 2019 - General Election 2019 - Election count at Aurora Leisure Complex, Bangor for Strangford and North Down. Jim Shannon, DUP with his mother Mona and wife Sandra after being elected in Strangford. Photo by Brian LittleÊ / Press Eye
The DUP's Carla Lockhart is returned as MP for Upper Bann and is pictured with her baby boy Charlie. Photo by Jonathan Porter / Press Eye.
Sinn Fein's Orfhlaith Begley pictured after she won her seat back in West Tyrone Photo by Stephen Hamilton / Press Eye.

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