Mark Durkan

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Mark Durkan
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Mark Durkan (born 26 June 1960, Derry, Northern Ireland [1]) is a nationalist politician in Northern Ireland and the leader of the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP).

In the 2015 general election, Durkan retained his seat with a majority of 6,046 and 48 per cent of the vote. [2]


Durkan's father was an Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) District Inspector in Armagh who died before his son's first birthday. [3] He was educated at St. Patrick's Primary School and at St. Columb's College in Derry.[4]

He studied politics at the Queen's University of Belfast (QUB) and later did a part-time Bachelor of Arts course in Public Policy Management with the University of Ulster at Magee. While at QUB Durkan served as Deputy President of Queen's Students' Union from 1982-1983. He was also elected Deputy President of the Union of Students in Ireland from 1982-1984. [5] .


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 the Seamus Mallon and Eddie McGrady in the 1980s [6].

Durkan's considerable strategic skills were honed by the American-based National Endowment for Democracy, a group which assisted the SDLP in professional electioneering from 1986.[7]

In 1990 Durkan became chairperson of the SDLP, a position he served in until 1995[8]. He was a key member of the party's negotiating team in the run up to the Good Friday Agreement [9].

Following the Agreement Durkan was elected to the Northern Ireland Assembly in 1998, and became a member of the Northern Ireland Executive as Minister for Finance and Personnel[10].

He served in that position until 2001 when he replaced Seamus Mallon as Deputy First Minister[11]. He was also elected Leader of the SDLP in that year. Durkan was re-elected to the Assembly in the election of November 2003. However, the Assembly and the Executive remained suspended until 8 May 2007[12].

In the 2005 general election he retained the Foyle seat at Westminster for the SDLP with a sizeable majority, despite a strong effort by Sinn Féin to take the seat. Durkan won 21,119 votes [13]




23 Bishop Street, Derry City, Co Derry, BT48 6PR

Tel:028 7136 0700 Fax:028 7136 0808


  1. Northern Ireland Assemby 2007 Mark Durkan
  2. Foyle Parliamentary constituency BBC News, accessed 21 May 2015
  3. BBC News, 1 February 2007, Northern Ireland Mark Durkan Martina Purdy
  4. Northern Ireland Assemby Mark Durkan
  5. SDLP 2007 Mark Durkan MP
  6. Northern Ireland Assemby 2003 Mark Durkan
  7. Hume leaves it too late, Maol Muire Tynan, Sunday Business Post, 23 September 2001.
  8. Northern Ireland Assemby 2003 Mark Durkan
  9. BBC News, 1 February 2007, Northern Ireland Mark Durkan Martina Purdy
  10. Northern Ireland Assemby 2003 Mark Durkan
  11. BBC News, 1 February 2007, Northern Ireland Mark Durkan Martina Purdy
  12. Northern Irish Assemby 2007Homepage
  13. BBC News; Election 2005; 6 May, 2005 SDLP's Durkan wins seat in Foyle
  14. Register of interests of members' secretaries and research assistants, 23 March 2016,, accessed 20 April 2016
  15. BBC News; Programmes This Weeks Panel
  16. Westminster Foundation for Democracy 2007 Governors and Patrons
  17. Sudan APPG,, accessed 18 November 2015