The Shame Game – who are the DUP?

The DUP hold a balance of power in the UK parliament. Holy moly. Anyone versed in NI politics might be pretty terrified right now, but I’d like to offer a more positive take… the world is now paying attention to them, so let’s show the world what they get up to when they think no one’s watching. They’ll regret the spotlight pretty quickly. I compiled a “thread of shame” on my twitter that’s been pretty popular, so I wanted to compile it in a bit more orderly fashion, with some more links. A lot of the media’s “who are the DUP” posts seem to be “oh they don’t like equal marriage or abortion”, but there’s a LOT more to pay attention to. I’m usually really against attack-based campaigns, but I genuinely want people in the rest of the UK to understand what the DUP are actually like. I’ve included at least one media source for each scandal, but most of them have plenty of stories – I recommend googling to find a lot of different perspectives. The DUP are quick to cry libel, so I’ve made sure everything I’ve included here is 100% substantiable.

First of all, I recommend reading Adam Ramsay’s piece on the DUP’s background and where they’ve come from, it’s pretty well-informed and helps contextualise a lot of what I’m listing here.

Secondly, I want to say that I’m not bringing family members or personal issues into this other than where they actually affect political matters – eg. not declared as interests, or reflect hypocritical opinions. Family members’ previous actions aren’t really a reflection of politicians’ current beliefs so I’m just going by what DUP politicians themselves have done, otherwise I’d be here for years.

Financial Scandals

2010-12 ~ Red Sky & Housing Executive

Then-First Minister Peter Robinson and other key figures in the DUP pushed very hard for the Housing Executive (social housing providers in NI) to protect a housing firm, Red Sky, which had significant financial irregularities and were carrying out substandard building. It’s a pretty dense scandal to get to grips with, but basically it was ruled that people had acted inappropriately and lots of dodgy stuff went on. It even has a wikipedia page. The Detail also did some pretty amazing investigating, which you can read.

2014-16 ~ Nama

The DUP were accused of being aware of, and beneficiaries of, an illegal property sale. It’s a pretty complicated issue, but the BBC did a massive investigation into it and do their best to explain it. There was also a Spotlight special on the investigation, but it’s not available on iPlayer anymore, hopefully they’ll re-run it. Allegations included the then-First Minister, Peter Robinson, personally benefitting. New DUP MP Emma Pengelly’s husband was a senior civil servant in the Department of Finance during all this, but she denied it’s a conflict of interest.

2012-17 ~ RHI/Cash for Ash

The DUP, especially First Minister Arlene Foster, were deeply involved in a mismanaged renewable energy scheme which is set to cost the NI public £400 million and the UK Treasury £600 million. Arlene Foster has refused to step aside to allow an investigation into her involvement in the scheme, resulting in the Assembly collapsing and there being no devolved authority in Northern Ireland since March. The BBC have a timeline.

2016-17 ~ Brexit Finances

During the European referendum campaign, the DUP funded advertisements which were not run in Northern Ireland – a weird move for a party that only stands in Northern Ireland. A possible, and likely, explanation of is that Northern Ireland has different political donation laws, protecting the secrecy of donors’ identities, and therefore allowing donations from “less savoury” people than would be tolerated by Tory or Ukip voters when their donations were published. There’s been some digging done, linking some of the finances to Saudi money and gun running. Basically the DUP allowed themselves to be used as a laundering service to get unpleasant funding for Brexit.

Individual MPs and Other Key Figures

Previous First Minister and DUP Leader Peter Robinson

In 1986, Peter Robinson joined other paramilitary loyalists in staging an invasion of the Republic of Ireland. He was also part of forming the Ulster Resistance, a loyalist paramilitary organisation who collaborated with the UDA and UVF. Robinson defended Pastor McConnell when he said that Muslims were “satanic” and “heathen”, but helpfully added that he would “trust them to go to the shops” for him.  Peter and Iris Robinson both tried to claim separate expenses for several of their joint parliamentary expenses, essentially doubling many of the expenses.

Iris Robinson

Peter Robinson’s wife, and also an MP and MLA in her own right, Iris Robinson claimed that gay people were “more vile than child abusers”. Additionally, she supported reparative therapy to “cure” gay people, including one who therapist was investigated for malpractice but cleared. In 2010, the BBC found out that she had an affair with a 19-year-old man in 2008 (she was 58 at the time), and had gained loans to cover him starting a restaurant. She did not declare her financial interest. The subsequent scandal resulted in her expulsion from the DUP and her resigning her seats; her husband remained First Minister.

First Minister Arlene Foster

Foster failed to reveal that her husband owned 54 acres of land, part of a large parcel of land granted a license for fracking by her department. She has since become a supporter of fracking, criticising the Co-op’s anti-fracking documentary. Arlene Foster also personally encouraged banks to back the aforementioned RHI scheme, in an unusual move. In early 2017, Foster suggested Irish language speakers were crocodiles, prompting protesters to dress as crocodiles during campaigns for an Irish Language Act. During the General Election campaign, Foster visited a UDA boss just days after a loyalist murder in Bangor.

Sammy Wilson MP

Thinks that breastfeeding is motivated by “voyeurism” and not a desire to feed babies. Thinks that climate change is a con (despite previously being Minister for Environment in the NI Assembly), which he states on his own website. He also pretty consistently attacks the media for “bias” when they investigate DUP scandals. He wrote a cracking post against his own constituents during protests against an oil drill in his constituency, which I think is still on the DUP website but it’s down at the minute, the Irish News have a cropped version though. There was also a dispute over whether or not he verbally agreed with someone else saying “get the ethnics out”. In 1994, Sammy Wilson backed a UDA document that included calls for ethnic cleansing to make Northern Ireland entirely Protestant; the document said that Catholics left in Northern Ireland would be “expelled, nullified, or interned” – Wilson called some of the document “a very valuable return to reality” [NOTE: this is the only source on this page not available entirely online, it is fully covered in the book Crimes of Loyalty: A History of the UDA and the ethnic cleansing aspect is mentioned in Ulster University’s timeline of the Troubles, in the 16th January 1994 entry, it’s also covered on Wilson’s wikipedia page]. Wilson called Assembly members “Jihadists” and tweeted “Je suis Sammy” in 2015, and subsequently refused to apologise.

Emma Pengelly MP

Pengelly’s husband is a civil servant, and aside from his proximity to the Nama scandal, he used his role as permanent secretary of the Department of Health to warn health trust staff not to share their political opinions on social media. The UDA endorsed Pengelly’s campaign in South Belfast.

Gregory Campbell MP

Gregory Campbell raised his concern with “spirit boards” such as ouija boards in 2015, when he called for their sales to be regulated. Campbell was double-jobbing as an MP and MLA when he was barred from speaking in the Assembly for mocking Irish language speakers, by saying “curry my yoghurt, can coca coalyer” (imitating the Irish for “thank you, speaker”, “go raibh maith agat, Ceann Comhairle“). For what it’s worth, he also said the DUP will not be an “NI branch of the Conservatives”.

Gavin Robinson MP

No relation to Peter and Iris Robinson, Gavin Robinson quickly gained notoriety due to the tone of his acceptance speech when he was first elected in 2015. Not necessarily a negative, but interestingly enough, Corbyn and Robinson were both on the panel of West Belfast Talks Back in 2015, and you can listen to the audio; I like the bit where Robinson says that if Equal Marriage won a majority in the Assembly they would have to respect that, and then the DUP blocked the majority with a petition of concern less than 6 months later. Awkward.

Ian Paisley Jr. MP

In 1997, Ian Paisley Jr. “moo-ed” while members of the Women’s Coalition Party were speaking, to interrupt their speeches. Paisley was involved in a minor scandal when he lobbied on behalf of property developers in 2007.  He also had the highest expenses claim of any MP in 2013 – £232,000, over 1% of the total amount claimed by all 650 MPs. He also made some very dodgy comments around the start of the Saville child abuse cases being investigated.

David Simpson MP

In election leaflets this year, David Simpson claimed he had visited military troops in Afghanistan when he did not.

Edwin Poots MLA

As Culture Minister in 2007, Poots participated in an interview saying he believed the earth was created in 4,000 BC. He was then appointed Health Minister, and in 2013 he challenged gay adoption in the Supreme Court, using taxpayers’ money.

Willie McCrea (previous MP and MLA)

Willie McCrea was a convicted member of a loyalist paramilitary group, and was criticised for sharing a platform with senior Loyalist, Billy Wright, who is thought to have been involved in over twenty sectarian killings; at the time of sharing the platform in 1996, McCrea was an MP. Billy Wright was also supported by other DUP members. In 1986, McCrea proposed “Libya-style” airstrikes on Irish towns. McCrea also declared “as long as I live I will have a mission, which is to teach these women to stand behind the loyal men of Ulster”.


LGBT Rights

Going ‘way back when’, the DUP spearheaded the “Save Ulster from Sodomy” campaign, which campaigned against the decriminalisation of homosexuality in Northern Ireland, which eventually happened in 1981 through a court case.

From 2014, the DUP supported Asher’s Bakery in their legal campaign against discrimination claims following denying service to a gay couple.

The DUP’s support of Asher’s Bakery inspired the “Conscience Clause”, which they intended to legislate to allow discrimination against lesbian, gay and bisexual people for religious reasons.

Jim Wells MLA resigned in 2015, shortly after two incidents including him allegedly saying that children brought up by gay parents were more likely to be abused, and insulting a gay constituent while canvassing.

There’s a great timeline of further LGBT-related actions by the DUP here.


Miscellaneous Others

The DUP supported claims that the new Giant’s Causeway tourist centre was against creationist values (for saying the Causeway was created millions of years ago, when of course the Earth is only 6,000 years old).

DUP MLA, Mervyn Storey, threatened the Ulster Museum with legal action due to their lack of a creationist viewpoint challenging their evolution exhibition; the DUP Culture Minister, Nelson McCauseland, then also requested the museum to include anti-evolutionist exhibits, as it was a “human rights issue”.

The DUP are also deeply linked to the Caleb Foundation, a creationist, “Young Earth”, fundamentalist Christian pressure group.

In 2010, the DUP allowed a self-confessed abuser back into the party, after he’d been expelled following him assaulting a 15-year-old girl in 2002.

A DUP member garnered international press in 2011 by telling Rihanna to ‘cover up’ when she filmed a music video in his fields. (Who knew Rihanna and Theresa May had something in common…?)

Prior to the widespread, disruptive “Flag Protests” in 2012, the DUP had distributed 400,000 leaflets blaming the Alliance Party for the vote to remove the flag from City Hall and, according to some, inciting the following violence.

DUP MLA Paul Girvan defends burning Irish flags on bonfires in a radio interview.

The DUP cancelled Oktoberfest Banbridge in 2013, by denying licensing to the event due to the sale of alcohol.

In 2014, the DUP’s campaigning led to a spoof biblical play being closed.

Following contention about recent paramilitary activity in 2015, the DUP ministers resigned and renominated for all their roles repeatedly, to hold the Northern Ireland Assembly in ‘limbo’ – preventing any ministerial decisions being made, but also preventing an election or other action.

It came to light that the DUP had been pre-signing Petitions of Concern (essentially vetos), going so far as to tippex out names of previous MLAs. This is very unconventional, as the PoCs are meant to be issue-related and not just signed en-masse for the leader to whip out whenever they want.

Jim Wells was the subject of two complaints regarding sexism in the Assembly, in a matter of days during February 2016.

Following the Euro 2016, DUP councillors refused to congratulate the Northern Irish team because the Irish team were also included in the letter and the English team weren’t.

The DUP recently had to fight allegations of significant links to a social initiative which received public funding and includes UDA members as key public figures.

Final Notes

I’ve compiled this and will be updating this for free, which I am happy to do, but if this has helped you, particularly professionally (eg. if you are a journalist or political commentator), I have a paypal link so you could send me a few quid to cover my unpaid work. I’d really appreciate it!

I’ll edit this post to include any other things I remember or come across, and to clarify anything or correct things I’ve got wrong, so please feel free to let me know if anything is incorrect or if there’s anything else I could include. You can tweet me, or comment on this post.  Please share with anyone who might not know just quite what the Tories are getting themselves in for.

Thanks for reading!


  1. Steve Lewis

    June 9, 2017 at 10:27 pm

    Hi! great thread – a few more I can think of
    – Nelson McCausland as Culture minister trying to force the Ulster Museum to add creationist material beside the dinosaurs
    and the very dodgy email trail of what the DUP insisted on having in the Giants Causeway exhibition again about creationism – but it got murky round the issue of funding – i.e. if you don’t put it in no £8m grant

    Thanks for illuminating!!!

  2. Kam

    June 10, 2017 at 2:09 am

    A well put together article, thank you! A couple of other points to take a look at; Their stance on an Irish language act. Alcohol serving times are more restricted than the rest of the UK particularly on Sundays & Christian holidays, this applies to shop opening times to a certain extent also. They have declined several invitations to public events, cross community type bridre building events such as jointly attending Euro 2016 football matches with Sinn Fein MLA’s. They blame SF for anything and everything, never taking responsibility themselves.
    There is probably a lot more but as you stated we could be here years.
    Personally I hate the fact that they represent me and my country because thier (only) election tactic of scaremongering a united ireland works so well on the loyalist paramilitaries and their knuckle dragging supporters.
    As a unionist in the loosest possible use of the term I really would like to see a party that is more middle to left wing, liberal and unionist that I could vote for. I’ m not interested in flags, marching, protestant or orange traditions, I just see remaining in the union as the best economical option, think religion has no place in politics and everyone should have a fair chance at life no matter of their race, religiin, nationality etc.
    Well that turned into a bit of a rant, in conclusion, from a NI resident, the DUP are probably the most fundamentalist right wing christian party I can think of and I hope the rest of the UK see them for what they are and shame them into the 21st century.

  3. Two in a bed – Mewsing Out Loud

    June 10, 2017 at 3:24 pm

    […] (I’m not going to list how horrific they are, because @green_grainger has done one already here) […]

  4. Edmund Quiery

    June 10, 2017 at 3:32 pm

    Emma Pengelly came into politics as a DUP advisor. She altered her name to “Emma Little Pengelly” for this election. Her father, Noel Little, was a founding member of Ulster Resistance in early 1980s and was convicted in France for attempted gun running from South Africa to Northern Ireland. In return he tried to exchange information on missiles which he managed to obtain from a mole in Shorts ( missile making factory in Belfast). I know you can’t help who your father is but why would she change her name? Further more it highlights her hypocrisy.

    1. Paul

      June 11, 2017 at 11:25 am

      To answer Edmund’s question directly “why would she change her name?” , Little was her birth name, Pengelly is her married name, she double-barrelled it when she got married. She was a special advisor and there was a bit of a shenannigans when she replaced ‘Ronseal’ Ruth Patterson. Keep digging, there’s loads of dirt on the DUP, framing a thought as you did above isn’t helpful however when the truth and facts are themselves already outrageous…

  5. Katie McGreal

    June 10, 2017 at 3:44 pm

    Fantastic! Really well put together! Well done!

  6. Denise Phelan

    June 10, 2017 at 4:08 pm

    Great article and very detailed. Would it be an idea to include more details of their anti abortion tactics? I’m thinking particularly of them using POC to block amendment following Declaration of Incompatibility with HR law in Feb 2016. Also, DUP minded Attorney General using public money to appeal ruling. They also promised to publish a report, following on from a working group but nothing done.

  7. Fifi

    June 10, 2017 at 5:42 pm

    How about the number of Super Injunctions in place for DUP members? And Sammy Wilson’s naked frolics in the woods on holidays with his girlfriend lol?

  8. Caitlin Ni Chonaill

    June 11, 2017 at 10:58 am

    Great article. The DUP are pro-imperialist and support British aggression/interference abroad. They are fiercely anti-Palestinian, pro-Zionist. Oh, and Ian Jr boasts of his friendly connections with Donald Trump.

  9. Pallas Athena

    June 11, 2017 at 5:02 pm

    During the campaign against the Infrastrata drill in the water catchment area of reservoirs supplying homes throughout Sammy Wilsons constituency and beyond, he showed a complete disregard for public safety. He also referred to the protectors as ‘green agitators from the Republic’ This aimed to denigrate the many local people who were on the case every day. Taking part in a radio debate with Majella McCarron of Don’t drill Antrim water his level of ignorance was clear when he talked about the value to the economy, but did not know the price of a barrel of oil. No one involved in Woodburn would ever return to voting DUP

  10. Two in a bed -

    June 11, 2017 at 7:23 pm

    […] (I’m not going to list how horrific they are, because @green_grainger has done one already here) […]

  11. Realitycheck

    June 12, 2017 at 9:53 am

    What about emma pengelly’s father – Noel little – being a gun runner for uda? Surely worth a mention!

  12. nuacht

    June 12, 2017 at 2:18 pm

    Emma little pengelly’s father Noel was caught trying to buy guns for the Ulster resistance in exchange for stolen blueprints of rocket parts.

  13. jeb

    June 27, 2017 at 8:13 pm
    “Between 1982 and 1984 I worked as Enoch Powell’s constituency agent, successfully spearheading Mr. Powell’s election campaigns of 1983 and 1986 when the South Down seat was retained despite the fact the constituency contained a natural ‘nationalist’ majority.”

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