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Arlene Foster resigns as DUP leader and Prime Minister of Northern Ireland

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Arlene Foster will step down as DUP leader and Prime Minister of Northern Ireland amid growing dissatisfaction with her party.

She said she would step down as DUP on May 28 and step down as prime minister at the end of June.

“It has been the privilege of my life to serve the people of Northern Ireland as Prime Minister and to represent my home constituency of Fermanagh / South Tyrone,” she said.

Ms Foster had faced a revolt against her leadership over the handling of Brexit and a decision to abstain in a vote on gay conversion therapy.

She described it as the “privilege of a lifetime” to serve the people of Northern Ireland.

Ms Foster said she would step down as leader of the Democratic Unionist Party on May 28 and Prime Minister of Northern Ireland at the end of June.

In a statement, Arlene Foster said: “It is important to leave space over the next few weeks for the party leaders to make arrangements for the election of a new leader. Once elected, I will work with the party. new head on transitional arrangements. “

Ms Foster said she intended to “leave the political scene”.

“It has been the privilege of my life to serve the people of Northern Ireland as Prime Minister and to represent my home constituency of Fermanagh / South Tyrone,” she said.

“I first entered the Assembly in 2003 and the journey of the past eighteen years has undoubtedly been a memorable one. Many people have helped and supported me throughout this time and I will always be grateful for the kindness and support they have shown me. .

“While there have been many difficult and trying times for the executive, I remain firmly convinced that Northern Ireland has been best served by having local ministers at this time. It is unthinkable that we could have done so in the face of the coronavirus pandemic without our own deconcentrated ministers in place and no ministerial direction for the departments. “

In her resignation speech, Ms Foster denounced “misogynistic criticism” and “online lynching mobs”.

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She said: “My election as the head of the Democratic Unionist Party shattered a glass ceiling and I am happy to have inspired other women to enter politics and to inspire them to take up elected office.

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“I understand the misogynistic criticisms that female public figures have to accept and unfortunately it is the same for all women in public life.

“I want to encourage you to keep going and not let the online lynch mobs bring you down.”

Statement by Arlene Foster, in full

“Not long ago I called the party chairman to inform him of my intention to step down as leader of the Democratic Unionist Party on May 28 and as Prime Minister of Northern Ireland at the end of the month of June.

“It is important to give space over the next few weeks for party officers to make arrangements for the election of a new leader. Once elected, I will work with the new leader on the transitional arrangements.

“As Prime Minister it is important that I complete work on a number of issues of importance to Northern Ireland alongside other colleagues in the executive. Northern Ireland and its people have been hit hard by the Covid-19 pandemic and there is still work to be done to guide us deepen the pandemic and reduce its impact on everyone’s lives.

I have had the privilege of serving the people of Northern Ireland as Prime Minister and representing my home constituency of Fermanagh / South Tyrone. I first entered the Assembly in 2003 and without a doubt the journey of the last eighteen years has been There are many people who have helped and supported me throughout this time and I will always be grateful for the kindness and support they have shown me.

“While there have been many difficult and trying times for the executive, I remain firmly convinced that Northern Ireland has been best served by having local ministers at this time. It is unthinkable that we could have faced the coronavirus pandemic without our own deconcentrated ministers in place and no ministerial guidance for the departments.

“As I prepare to leave politics, I believe that if Northern Ireland is to prosper, it will only do so on the basis of successful and sustainable decentralization. It will take hard work and real determination and courage from all parties. .

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“As the focus is on me today, I recognize that it will pass. For me, my decision to go into politics was never a question of party or person, it was about standing up for the voiceless and building a Northern Ireland that could prosper and be at peace within the UK. United.

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“I’m the first to admit that there have been ups and downs over the past five and a half years.

“The result of the 2016 Assembly election and our party’s best result in Westminster in 2017 stood out among the highlights when voters sent a clear message that they wanted to move Northern Ireland forward.

“The trust and supply deal created a billion pounds of extra spending for everyone in Northern Ireland. Our priorities were not narrow but rested on more investment in mental health and hospitals, bringing broadband to rural communities, improving our roads and securing funding, encouraging more shared housing and education.

“For our innocent victims, I am proud that we fought together and although it was too late for some, we finally got a well deserved pension for you.

“For our armed forces, the Veterans Commissioner is in place. You have a lawyer to defend you and make sure your voice is heard at the heart of government.

“Of course, like the ups, there have been some downs along the way.

“The three years without devolution caused untold damage to our public services and the RHI investigation was a difficult time. The protocol imposed on Northern Ireland against the will of trade unionists has served to destabilize Northern Ireland in recent times.

“While there is still work to be done, I am proud that a young generation of Democratic trade unionists is getting involved in politics and trying to shape Northern Ireland for the better.

“For the past twelve months, I have organized weekly online meetings with young people mainly from working-class communities and I have encouraged them especially young women to get involved.

“I echo that encouragement today. Politics and debate are the only way to effect change in society. You will be and can be the deputies, deputies and advisers of tomorrow.

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“My election as the head of the Democratic Unionist Party shattered a glass ceiling and I am happy to have inspired other women to enter politics and to have inspired them to take up elected office.

“I understand the misogynistic criticisms that female public figures have to accept and unfortunately it is the same for all women in public life.

“I want to encourage you to keep going and not to be beaten down by the mobs of online lynchs.

“To the hundreds of Party supporters who have been in contact over the past few days, I say a sincere thank you for the opportunities to serve you and the support you have given me. For nearly five and a half years, I have been extremely humble to have the opportunity to lead the Democratic Unionist Party.

“I sought to move the Party and Northern Ireland away from division and towards a better path.

“There are people in Northern Ireland with a British identity, some are Irish, some are Northern Irish, some are a mix of all three and some are new and emerging. We all have to learn. to be generous to each other, to live together and to share this wonderful country.

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“The future of unionism and Northern Ireland will not lie in division, it will only be found in sharing this place we all have the privilege to call home.”

Reaction to Foster leaving his leadership position

Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis led the tributes to Arlene Foster on Wednesday afternoon.

He said: “Arlene is a truly dedicated public servant, dedicating her political career to her constituents for over 18 years and to the people of Northern Ireland as Prime Minister for several years.

“Many young people, especially young women, will be inspired by his example to follow a path into politics.

“I wish her every success and look forward to continuing to work with her in the days and weeks to come, in the service of all the people of Northern Ireland.”

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