The Ulster Unionist Party: Country Before Party?

Thomas Hennessey, Máire Braniff, James McAuley, Jonathan Tonge, Sophie A. Whiting

Research output: Book/ReportBookpeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)


This book undertakes the first detailed membership study of the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP). The UUP was the dominant political party in Northern Ireland during the twentieth century, but since the 1998 Belfast Agreement, the UUP has struggled to retain the loyalty and affection of many within the majority Protestant-Unionist-British community. The Belfast Agreement was internationally lauded, the UUP leader David Trimble feted with a Nobel Peace Prize.The Agreement largely produced by the UUP established power-sharing between unionists and nationalists. Yet many unionists abandoned the UUP. Many defectors, angered by UUP concessions of paramilitary prisoner releases, policing changes, and ‘terrorists’ in government, wanted a more robust defender of unionist interests. Having switched to the one-time ferociously religious and militant DUP, they have not returned to the UUP. This book analyses these developments and the current state of the Party, particularly through the prism of its (still sizeable) membership. It draws upon the first-ever quantitative study of those members, examining who they are; how and why they joined; why they have stayed loyal to their party; how they view those who defected and where the UUP is heading. The volume also uses a wide range of interviews with members at all levels of the Party and with its five most recent leaders, to analyse views on the UUP’s electoral and political difficulties and how they might be reversed. The book draws upon historical, political, and sociological perspectives in analysing the identities of UUP members and their perceptions of a wide range of contemporary issues, covering political institutions, other parties, social change, moral issues, religion, and voting.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationOxford
PublisherOxford University Press
Number of pages256
ISBN (Print)9780198794387, 019879438X
Publication statusPublished - 3 Jan 2019


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