Mark Durkan

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Mark Durkan
Deputy First Minister of Northern Ireland
In office
6 November 2001 – 14 October 2002
Serving with David Trimble
Preceded by Seamus Mallon
Succeeded by Martin McGuinness
Leader of the Social Democratic and Labour Party
In office
6 November 2001 – 7 February 2010
Deputy Bríd Rodgers
Alasdair McDonnell
Preceded by John Hume
Succeeded by Margaret Ritchie
Member of Parliament
for Foyle
Assumed office
5 May 2005
Preceded by John Hume
Majority 6,046 (16.3%)
Member of the Northern Ireland Assembly
for Foyle
In office
25 June 1998 – 9 November 2010
Preceded by Constituency Created
Succeeded by Pól Callaghan
Personal details
Born John Mark Durkan
(1960-06-26) 26 June 1960 (age 58)
Derry, Northern Ireland
Political party SDLP
Spouse(s) Jackie Durkan
Children 1
Alma mater Queen's University Belfast
University of Ulster
Website Website]

Mark Durkan MP (born 26 June 1960) is an Irish SDLP politician from Northern Ireland. Durkan was the deputy First Minister of Northern Ireland from 2001 to 2002, and the Leader of the Social Democratic and Labour Party from 2001 to 2010.[1][2]

Early life

John Mark Durkan was born in Derry; his father, Brendan, was a Royal Ulster Constabulary District Inspector in Armagh.[3] He was raised by his mother, Isobel, after his father was killed in a road accident in 1961. He was educated at St. Patrick's Primary School and at St. Columb's College, where he was Head Boy.

He studied politics at the Queen's University of Belfast (QUB), and later did a part-time postgraduate course in Public Policy Management with the University of Ulster at Magee.[4] While at QUB Durkan served as Deputy President of Queen's Students' Union from 1982 to 1983. He was also elected Deputy President of the Union of Students in Ireland from 1982 to 1984.

Political career

He became involved in politics in 1981 when he became a member of the Social Democratic and Labour Party. In 1984 he went to work for John Hume as his Westminster Assistant. He became a key figure in organising by-election campaigns for Seamus Mallon and Eddie McGrady in the 1980s.

In 1990 Durkan became chairperson of the SDLP, a position he served in until 1995. He was a key member of the party's negotiating team in the run up to the Good Friday Agreement. Following the Agreement he was elected to the Northern Ireland Assembly in 1998, and became a member of the Northern Ireland Executive as Minister for Finance and Personnel. He served in that position until 2001 when he replaced Seamus Mallon as Deputy First Minister. He was also elected Leader of the SDLP the same year. Durkan was reelected to the Assembly in the election of November 2003. However, the Assembly and the Executive remained suspended. In the 2005 general election he retained the Foyle seat at Westminster for the SDLP. While down on Hume's vote, Durkan won with a comfortable majority, despite a strong effort by Sinn Féin to take the seat. He won 21,119 votes which was 46.3% of the total.[citation needed]

Durkan announced his intention to stand down as leader of the SDLP in September 2009[5] so he could concentrate on his parliamentary career.[5] He was replaced as leader by Margaret Ritchie in February 2010.[6] He is a Fellow of the British-American Project.[citation needed]

Durkan has publicly supported gay rights by supporting the Gay Pride parade in solidarity with those who suffer homophobic prejudice and in some cases violent hate attacks. He said: “First and foremost, I want to show my solidarity with the founders, volunteers and supporters of the Foyle Pride Festival. Through their courage, inspiration and tireless work in tackling all forms of homophobia, they are helping so many people in Derry and throughout the North West to enjoy equality in their lives."[7]


He and his wife Jackie have one child. He attends mass regularly each week in St Eugene's Cathedral in Derry with his family.[citation needed] His nephew Mark H. Durkan is an SDLP MLA for Foyle and Minister of the Environment in the Executive.


External links

Northern Ireland Assembly
Preceded by
Constituency Created
Member of the Legislative Assembly for Foyle
Succeeded by
Pol Callaghan
Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
John Hume
Member of Parliament for Foyle
Succeeded by
Political offices
Preceded by
Constituency Created
Minister of Finance and Personnel
Succeeded by
Sean Farren
Preceded by
Seamus Mallon
deputy First Minister of Northern Ireland
Succeeded by
Martin McGuinness
Party political offices
Preceded by
Alban Maginness
Chairman of the Social Democratic and Labour Party
Succeeded by
Jonathan Stephenson
Preceded by
John Hume
Leader of the Social Democratic and Labour Party
Succeeded by
Margaret Ritchie