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Arlene Foster couldn't take questions at manifesto launch due to 'man flu'

Foster was speaking at the launch of the DUP manifesto in advance of next month’s elections.

DUP LEADER ARLENE Foster was unable to take questions from the media at the launch of her party’s manifesto today, saying she is ill with man flu.

The Belfast Telegraph reports that Foster told the assembled media that she had “man flu” at the launch at the Stormont Hotel. Her spokesperson said later that she was ill.

Northern Ireland Assembly elections are due to take place on 2 March, after which Foster said “it is clear that we will be heading into a period of negotiations immediately after”.

Speaking at the launch, Foster said that all of the recent polling “confirms that this election will be neck and neck between Gerry Adams Sinn Féin and the DUP. The other parties are trailing far behind.”

She added:

I know other parties don’t like us saying it, but the reality is that every vote for another unionist party is a vote which is lost in the battle to make sure that Sinn Féin does not win this election.

Foster said that should Sinn Féin have an election victory, the party would use it as justification for a border poll.

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Ulster Assembly election 2017Party Leader Arlene Foster launches the Democratic Unionist Party's manifesto in Belfast today.Source: Niall Carson

She laid out a set of 10 principles which will govern the DUP's negotiations, including that they will work to avoid direct rule; demands in negotiations will be proportionate to those of Sinn Féin; they will not compromise on fundamental unionist principles in order to retain power; and the DUP will not permit the rewriting of the past or the persecution of the security forces.

Foster blamed Sinn Féin for causing an "unnecessary election", saying that the people of Northern Ireland "are already suffering as a result".

The elections were precipitated by Sinn Féin's Martin McGuinness stepping down as Deputy First Minister over the fact Foster had become embroiled in the so-called 'cash for ash' scandal.

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