Unionist unity: Incoming DUP leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson’s daughter marries son of UUP chair Danny Kennedy

The marriage of the incoming DUP leader’s daughter and the UUP chairman’s son has been described as “a form of powersharing that will definitely work”.

Sir Jeffrey Donaldson whose daughter Laura married Danny Kennedy’s son Philip yesterday, told the News Letter ahead of the service at Banbridge Road Presbyterian Church in Dromore, Co Down, that he was thrilled the two families would be united.

Danny said it was a day about love and not politics, quipping that it was a “new act of union”.

Philip, a full time youth worker, and Laura, a nurse, knew each other as young children due to the long association between the two families, but it wasn’t until around two years ago that their friendship blossomed into love.

Laura and Philip Kennedy on their wedding day at Banbridge Road Presbyterian Church in Dromore today with Philip's father Danny Kennedy. Pic by Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker

Danny said: “More recently Philip went to work as a youth worker at Banbridge Road Presbyterian Church in Dromore – that’s where the Donaldsons worship. He and Laura then found each other.”

The pair married in a service at the same church where their romance began. The service was also beamed to the location of their reception at Corick House in Clogher for those guests who weren’t able to attend due to Covid restrictions.

It was to be third time lucky for the couple, who had moved their wedding date twice due to Covid restrictions.

Danny and Sir Jeffrey became firm friends when they were both members of the Ulster Unionist Party. Sir Jeffrey resigned from the party in 2003, going on to join the DUP.

Proud parents: Danny and Karen Kennedy with Eleanor and Jeffrey Donaldson and today's wedding. Pic by Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker

Sir Jeffrey said: “It shows that in politics people can rise above their own political perspective and be friends with others. I’ve many friends in politics and I count Danny as one of my closest.”

Danny said: “We’ve been friends for over 35 years, politics is important but it doesn’t impact on friendships even when there are political differences. We’ve always had a very good relationship.

“People will find it slightly amusing maybe. It’s all about love today, it’s not about politics.

“In some ways it’s a new act of union. It’s a form of powersharing that will definitely work.”

Happy couple Philip and Laura. Pic by Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker

Sir Jeffrey, who is to succeed Edwin Poots as the third DUP leader in the space of two months, said before the service: “I’m delighted that my daughter Laura is getting married to Danny’s son Philip. I couldn’t be a happier father because Philip is a great guy. I have every confidence they will have a long and happy life together.

“Danny and I have known each other for years and have remained friends for all of that time. I’m thrilled that our two families are going to be united today through this wedding.”

He added: “Today is not about politics, it’s about love, it’s about two people who care deeply for each other and want to spend the rest of their lives together and we’re going to celebrate that today.”

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