Arlene Foster can step down as First Minister at a time of her choosing – Poots

Arlene Foster
Arlene Foster (PA Wire)
14:36pm, Fri 28 May 2021
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Northern Ireland First Minister Arlene Foster can step aside at a time of her choosing, her successor as DUP leader has said.

Edwin Poots was speaking after Mrs Foster indicated that if he names his ministerial team next Tuesday as expected, she will step down immediately.

She had previously said she would remain as First Minister until the end of June. She left her role as party leader on Friday.

I am not pushing Arlene out

Mr Poots is set to be the first DUP leader not to take the position of First Minister. He has said he will nominate a colleague in order to allow himself to focus on leading the party,

Speaking to the media in Belfast on Friday afternoon, he reiterated that he has no plans to “push” Mrs Foster out.

“I have said Arlene will leave at a time of Arlene’s choosing, I am not pushing Arlene out,” he said.

“That’s my position and that remains my position. I am not going to be rushed into doing anything or pushed into doing anything, nor am I going to be denied doing something that I am ready to do.

“We will look at all of these issues and take a decision at a time that is appropriate for us.

“I’ll reveal the ministerial line-up whenever I am ready to reveal my ministerial line-up, and that’s after I have continued my consultation process with my colleagues.”

Earlier, Mrs Foster confirmed she will leave the DUP when she steps down as First Minister.

He needs to recognise there is a lot of work to do in terms of healing divisions that are quite obviously there in the party

Speaking to reporters as she visited pupils at Banbridge Academy, she was asked what she will do if Mr Poots unveils his team on Tuesday.

“My reaction is that I will resign as well because I have my ministerial team in the Executive with me, we have worked very closely together,” she said.

“If Edwin decides that he wants to change that team, I will have to go as well because I can’t stay with a new ministerial team of which I have no authority, and that would be wrong.”

Asked what message she has for the new party leader, Mrs Foster said: “Congratulations on becoming the fourth leader of the Democratic Unionist Party. It is a hugely rewarding job.

“There are very many good people who vote for us, who support us, but he (Mr Poots) needs to recognise there is a lot of work to do in terms of healing divisions that are quite obviously there in the party.”

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