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Who are Northern Ireland's DUP and what do they believe?

Who are Northern Ireland's DUP and what do they believe?

Democratic Unionist Party could play kingmakers at Westminster following the general election result.

The Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) look likely to be one of the big winners from the UK's general election.

All eyes are on the party's ten MPs to see whether they will join the Tories and given them the majority they need to form a government.

"[They] are likely the only option the Conservatives have to govern effectively, as they fall just short of a majority in the House of Commons," says the Huffington Post.

North Belfast MP Nigel Dodds, DUP leader at Westminster, last night ruled out any chance of backing Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn to be prime minister and confirmed they will deal solely with the Tories.

He said: "We will look at it in the clear light of day.

"We have increased our mandate quite substantially. We have taken ten seats which puts us in a strong position for the negotiations that need to happen here [in Northern Ireland] and also now on the national stage. So we will see what happens and talk to people over the next few days."

He added: "Under no circumstances would we support, help, prop up or any way assist Jeremy Corbyn to achieve any of his objectives given his track record," he said.

According to the BBC, "Theresa May - or whoever succeeds her - would be a far more plausible partner for the DUP, which is pro-Brexit and right of centre on many issues".

Who are the DUP?

Founded by Ian Paisley and now led by Arlene Foster, the DUP is the largest party in the Northern Ireland Assembly and is now the fifth-largest party in the Commons.

It governs Northern Ireland with its republican rivals Sinn Fein in a power-sharing agreement borne out of the peace process.

What do they support?

In Northern Ireland, the party defines itself by its support of the United Kingdom.

It has also voted against introducing same-sex marriage and more liberal abortion laws to the province.

This has led to questions about what concessions May will have to make in order to receive the support of the party.

Northern Ireland voted Remain by a majority of 56 per cent to 44 per cent - "although some large mainly unionist areas did vote for Brexit", says the Daily Telegraph - and Foster is keen to avoid a strong Brexit with the possibility of a hard border with the Republic of Ireland.

She said: "No one wants to see a hard Brexit. What we want to see is a workable plan to leave the European Union and that's what the national vote was about. Therefore, we need to get on with that.

“However, we need to do it in a way that respects the specific circumstances of Northern Ireland and, of course, our shared history and geography with the Republic of Ireland."

The DUP manifesto also includes retaining the "triple lock" on pensions, cutting VAT for tourism businesses, abolishing air passenger duty and reviewing the price of ferries between Northern Ireland and Great Britain.

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