Arlene jpg

Foster takes DUP helm, will soon be First Minister

Arlene Foster

By Anthony Neeson

Arlene Foster has been unanimously elected the new leader of the Democratic Unionist Party.

The Fermanagh/South Tyrone MLA was elected unopposed and replaces Peter Robinson, who announced that he was stepping down as party leader last month.

Mrs. Foster will take up her role as First Minister in January.

Speaking to party members after her election, foster said it was humbling to follow in the footsteps of Ian Paisley and Peter Robinson.

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“For much of the last forty years this party toiled in the political wilderness but today we stand tall as the largest unionist party and the party of Northern Ireland,” she said.

“That is down to the hard work and efforts of those who have gone before me.

“And as a result of that labor, this role is not just as leader of the DUP but the leader of unionism.”

Foster said Peter Robinson was instrumental in bringing her, and other Ulster Unionists, into the DUP.

“Little did I think that when I joined this party eleven years ago that I would be standing here today. From the very first day I was welcomed with open arms and made feel at home.”

She added: “When I was growing up, many of our family and friends firmly believed that a united Ireland was inevitable. I can recall people talking about emigrating when that fateful day would come.

“But it never arrived. Something that seemed so certain for many in a generation battered by terrorism and betrayed by governments in London they looked towards to defend them, has given way to a new found sense of certainty that Northern Ireland is here, and it's here to stay.

“With the safety and security of knowing that the constitutional question has been settled, it should inspire us with the confidence to look forward into the future and transform Northern Ireland into the sort of society that was denied to so many because of the Troubles.

“Our place within the United Kingdom has been fought for and secured by the sacrifice of others. It is now up to this generation to seize the opportunity to move Northern Ireland forward.

“We must remain ever vigilant. We can't be complacent or let our opponents use other means to erode the Union, our heritage and our culture,” Foster said.