Northern Ireland

Gavin Robinson elected deputy leader of DUP

DUP MP Gavin Robinson defeated Ulster Bann MLA Jonathan Buckley in the vote of party MPs and MLAs
DUP MP Gavin Robinson defeated Ulster Bann MLA Jonathan Buckley in the vote of party MPs and MLAs

East Belfast MP Gavin Robinson has been elected deputy leader of the DUP.

Mr Robinson defeated Ulster Bann MLA Jonathan Buckley in the vote of party MPs and MLAs on Friday.

DUP chairman Lord Morrow announced the result of the poll which took place at the party’s headquarters in Belfast.

Paula Bradley has stepped down from the deputy role which she held since 2021.

Mr Robinson’s election will be seen as a boost for party leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson.

Mr Robinson is regarded as one of his closest allies within the unionist party.

Mr Buckley was chief of staff for Sir Jeffrey’s predecessor, Edwin Poots, who lasted only three weeks in the post before being ousted in an internal revolt in 2021.

Mr Robinson said: “I am honoured that I have been elected to serve as deputy leader.

“I look forward to continuing to work with colleagues at every level within the party as we seek to deliver on our election commitments.

“A new generation of unionists are stepping forward to serve at every level within our party and in service to Northern Ireland.

“We all share the desire to play our part to help shape Northern Ireland into an even better place to live and work.”

Jonathan Buckley
Jonathan Buckley failed in his bid to become party deputy leader (Liam McBurney/PA)

The MP said that the DUP membership is growing across the region.

He added: “I look forward to visiting every part of the country and playing my part in building and promoting the pro-union cause as well as working to deliver on our plan for Northern Ireland.”

Sir Jeffrey was also re-elected as party leader in the vote on Friday.

He said: “It has been an honour to serve as not only the DUP’s leader but also the leader of unionism.

“I thank colleagues for their renewal of my mandate to serve.”

Under Sir Jeffrey’s leadership the DUP brought down the powersharing institutions at Stormont amid ongoing concerns over post-Brexit trading arrangements.

In that time the party has also been overtaken by Sinn Fein as the largest in Stormont and local councils.

He said: “When first elected leader in July 2021 I said that my focus would be the restoration of Northern Ireland’s place within the United Kingdom. That remains my focus.

“Aligned to this objective is the coalescing of pro-union people around the DUP’s message.

“The way forward for unionism must mean less hunting for heretics and more encouragement for converts.

“We remain focused on delivering on our plan for Northern Ireland and promoting the pro-union message.

“Across the pro-union community, it remains my view that there is more that unites us than divides us.”