Mark Durkan MP (born 26 June 1960) is an Irish politician in Northern Ireland who 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.
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 remain 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.
Durkan announced his intention to stand down as leader of the SDLP in September 2009 so he could concentrate on his parliamentary career. He was replaced as leader by Margaret Ritchie in February 2010. He is a Fellow of the British-American Project.
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."
June 4, 2010