MP for Foyle, Former leader of the SDLP and Deputy First Minister, Northern Ireland. Member of the Westminister Committee on Exiting the European Union.
Mark Durkan is a native of Derry city and a past pupil of St. Columb’s College. He went on to study Politics at Queen’s University and later did Public Policy part-time at the University of Ulster Magee. Mark lives in Derry and is married to Jackie. They have one daughter, Dearbháil. Mark is a keen Manchester United fan.
Mark first became involved in politics during his student days when he was elected Deputy President of Queen’s Students Union. The following year, he moved to Dublin after being elected Deputy President of the Union of Students in Ireland. In 1984 he returned to Derry to work for John Hume as his Westminster Assistant. He subsequently became a key figure in the party, organising MP election victories for Seamus Mallon and Eddie McGrady in 1986 and 1987.
In 1990 Mark became Chairperson of the SDLP, serving until 1995, and was elected to Derry City Council in 1993. He was a key member of the SDLP team during the negotiations leading to the Good Friday Agreement and was described by journalists as its chief draftsman.
After leading a resoundingly successful yes campaign for the SDLP, Mark was elected to the Northern Ireland Assembly in 1998 for Foyle. He was appointed to the Northern Ireland Executive as Minister for Finance and Personnel. He implemented a raft of radical initiatives including setting up the Executive Programme Funds, a mechanism for ensuring that public money was spent according to the priorities of the people rather than the practices of the past.
In 2001 Mark replaced Seamus Mallon as Deputy First Minister. He also succeeded John Hume as SDLP Leader. Mark has represented Derry’s interests with distinction as the MP for Foyle since 2005. He has a strong pedigree on many issues including justice, economic development, healthcare and children’s rights. He has established a reputation as a leading advocate on international development issues and on civil liberties, and was described by Liberty as ‘an incredible and powerful ally for human rights.’
Mark stood down as party leader in February 2010 to be replaced by Margaret Ritchie. In November 2010 Mark resigned from the Northern Ireland Assembly to concentrate on his role as MP for Foyle. Mark has served as a member of the Select Committee on Exiting the European Union.
His Public Bill committees have included two Financial Services, Banking Reform Bills, Corporation Tax (Northern Ireland) Bill and the Modern Slavery Bill. As a member of a number of All-Party Parliamentary Groups at Westminster he has also actively supported a number of campaigns for tax justice, against corruption and for trade transparency.