Mrs Foster, 50, said she would step down as DUP leader on 28 May and as first minister at the end of June.


Arlene Foster announces resignation as DUP leader and NI first minister


Arlene Foster announces resignation as DUP leader and NI first minister

London::

Arlene Foster has announced her resignation as leader of the Democratic Unionist Party and as NI first minister after an internal revolt.

Mrs Foster, 50, said she would step down as DUP leader on 28 May and as first minister at the end of June.

It comes as she was facing a revolt among her party’s representatives.

More than 20 DUP Northern Ireland Assembly members and four MPs had signed a letter voicing no-confidence in the leadership.

She became leader of the party in December 2015 and, the following month as leader of Stormont’s largest party, she was appointed first minister of Northern Ireland.

She was the first woman and the youngest person to hold both jobs.

You can read Mrs Foster’s full statement here.

Mrs Foster said it had been the privilege of her life to “serve the people of Northern Ireland as their first minister and to represent my home constituency of Fermanagh/South Tyrone”.

“My election as leader of the Democratic Unionist Party broke a glass ceiling and I am glad to inspired other women to enter politics and spurred them on to take up elected office,” Mrs Foster said.

“I understand the misogynistic criticisms that female public figures have to take and sadly it’s the same for all women in public life.

“I want to encourage you to keep going and don’t let the online lynch mobs get you down.”

It is understood there is majority support among the party’s Stormont and Westminster ranks – about 80% – for a change in leadership.

It is believed 22 of the DUP’s 27 MLAs (Members of the Legislative Assembly) and four MPs signed a letter of no confidence in Mrs Foster and the party leadership.

Only a small number of the DUP membership – MLAs and MPs – will get to vote in a leadership contest.

Mrs Foster said it was important to give space over the coming weeks for the party officers to make arrangements for the election of a new leader.

Mrs Foster has endured a turbulent time as DUP leader and the fall-out from Brexit – which the party supported – has put particular pressure on the party’s top brass as it faces having to weather the storm caused by the Northern Ireland Protocol, which imposed a border down the Irish Sea.

It has also been suggested recent changes to NI’s abortion laws and the commitment to implement an Irish language act were causing concerns with some elected DUP representatives ahead of next year’s assembly election.

First Published in BBC.

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