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New DUP leader says history ‘will be kind’ to predecessor

·2-min read

The man who replaced Arlene Foster as DUP leader has said that history “will be kind” to his predecessor.

Edwin Poots was the first party leader to deliver a tribute to the departing first minister following her resignation.

Mrs Foster stared straight ahead with her arms folded during Mr Poots’ speech.

The new DUP leader congratulated Mrs Foster on a “hugely successful” career.

He added: “I believe history will be very kind to Arlene, it should be very kind to her because she has done a considerable course of work in ensuring that we move forward.

Ulster politics
DUP Leader Edwin Poots delivered his tribute to Arlene Foster in the Assembly (Mark Marlow/PA)

“Even after the difficult times of 2017 with the collapse of devolution, the commitment was there, and always there to ensure that we could get back together again, that we could take people forward again.

“And they could ensure that the public had this place to make decisions for them on their behalf.”

Mr Poots described Mrs Foster as a unionist and also a devolutionist.

“She, like I, was a child of the Troubles, and had a similar circumstance in that the Troubles visited our homes,” he said.

“For Arlene I believe having peace in Northern Ireland and ensuring that we have peace and that we have a way of working with each other was a powerful part of what she done in her politics and what she sought to ensure in her politics, and in leading her to work with people who would have been regarded as enemies.”

Earlier, Mrs Foster said she would now spend more time with her family “whether they like it or not”.

Delivering her personal statement, she said: “It’s just as well, Mr Speaker, I am such a good daughter, wife and mother.”

The comment echoed one made by Mr Poots when Mrs Foster took up the role of first minister in 2016.

At the time Mr Poots said her “most important job” remained “that of a wife, mother and daughter”.

The remarks were criticised by gender equality campaigners who said his attitude was “belittling” of women.

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