Mere hours after reporting that Arlene Foster could lose the DUP leadership after her party’s letter of no confidence in how she dealt with a recent motion banning conversion therapy and the Brexit situation, Foster has announced she will in fact step down herself.
In a statement released on the DUP website, Foster said, “A short time ago I called the Party Chairman to inform him that I intend to step down as leader of the Democratic Unionist Party on the 28 of May and as First Minister of Northern Ireland at the end of June.”
Many believed it was a case of step down or be pushed for Foster as 21 of the DUP’s 28 Stormont Assembly members, along with four out of eight Westminster MPs, reportedly signed a letter of no confidence.
Foster had abstained from voting on a motion to ban conversion therapy in Northern Ireland which infuriated the traditional Christian members of her party already angered by her handling of Brexit and the Northern Ireland Protocol.
Last week when questioned whether the future of her leadership was in doubt, Foster replied, “Stories on leadership come up from time to time, and it’s one of those times. So we’ll just deal with it and move on because I’ve bigger things to do.”
Things obviously moved quickly since then, as Foster admitted in her statement, “I am the first to recognise there have been ups and downs over the last five and a half years.”
Alongside listing what work remains before she can step down completely, Foster also announced “I have sought to lead the Party and Northern Ireland away from division and towards a better path.” There was no mention in particular of the division caused by the openly homophobic actions of her party, although Foster did say before she was “very distressed” by accusations of homophobia.
Foster finished her statement describing, “We must all learn to be generous to each other, live together and share this wonderful country. The future of unionism and Northern Ireland will not be found in division, it will only be found in sharing this place we all are privileged to call home.”
Over the coming months as possible replacements emerge, the direction the DUP will head in with a new leader, and what that means for the people of Northern Ireland, will become more apparent.
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