How did Northern Ireland MPs vote on the Iraq War?

Eddie McGrady
Eddie McGrady

Just one Northern Ireland MP voted against the Iraq War in 2003.

Although several local MPs opposed the decision to go to war, the late Eddie McGrady was the sole Ulster MP to actually vote against the resolution which took Britain to war against Saddam Hussein’s Iraq.

Every unionist MP present voted with Tony Blair’s Government in the March 2003 vote in the House of Commons.

Across the Commons, 139 Labour MPs rebelled against Mr Blair on the issue, while 15 Conservative MPs voted against the decision to go to war, along with all 53 Liberal Democrat MPs.

Although there are 18 Northern Ireland MPs, just 12 of them were present for the vote. Two SDLP MPs – John Hume and Seamus Mallon – were absent for the vote.
And Sinn Fein’s four MPs at the time, although their public position was to oppose the war, did not break Sinn Fein’s abstentionist policy in order to enter the House of Commons to vote against the decision to authorise military action.

On Wednesday, a spokeswoman for the SDLP explained that Mr Hume and Mr Mallon were unable to attend the Commons at short notice for the vote.

She said: “The SDLP was consistent and vocal in its opposition to the military intervention in Iraq. The vote on March 18, 2003 was not part of the scheduled business for the week. The resolution was given at short notice after President Bush’s broadcast on the evening of St Patrick’s Day.

“In the circumstances, two of our MPs were unable to be there for the vote. Eddie McGrady represented the party’s position in the voting lobby. The March 2003 motion sought to rely on a previous vote on 26 February 2003, as a ‘paving’ motion. All three SDLP MPs were present and voted against this motion and in favour of an amendment which the Government opposed.”

Below is a list of the Northern Ireland MPs who voted for the war, and the one who voted against:

For

Nigel Dodds, DUP (North Belfast)

Jeffrey Donaldson, (then) UUP (Lagan Valley)

Peter Robinson, DUP (East Belfast)

Rev Martin Smyth, UUP (South Belfast)

Ian Paisley, DUP (North Antrim)

Roy Beggs, UUP (East Antrim)

David Burnside, UUP (South Antrim)

Gregory Campbell, DUP (East Londonderry)

Lady Sylvia Hermon, (then) UUP (North Down)

Iris Robinson, DUP (Strangford)

David Trimble, UUP (Upper Bann)

Against

Eddie McGrady, SDLP (South Down)