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Dublin: -1 °C Saturday 18 January, 2020

'Why would my leadership be in any doubt?': Arlene Foster on DUP's election outcome

For the first time, nationalist parties have more MPs than unionist parties.

DUP Leader Arlene Foster
DUP Leader Arlene Foster
Image: Brian Lawless/PA Images

DUP LEADER ARLENE Foster has denied her leadership is in doubt after the party emerged as Northern Ireland’s biggest casualty in the election. 

The DUP now has 8 MPs, down from 10 MPs in the last election. Sinn Féin stay the same on 7, a result they’ll be happy with. The SDLP now has two MPs, and the Alliance Party has one in Lady Sylvia Hermon’s former constituency.

This means that, for the first time, nationalist parties have more MPs than unionist parties – a major shift in the North’s politics. 

Furthermore, Boris Johnson’s thumping majority ensures that the confidence and supply arrangement negotiated between the DUP and Theresa May in 2017 is now dead, erasing any real DUP influence over what happens next in Brexit. 

Speaking to UTV News this evening, Foster said that the DUP has now been “given a very clear message” from the people of Northern Ireland – that they “want devolution and they want us to be back in the Assembly”. 

“I’ve heard that message, the party has heard that message, we will be in talks on Monday and I hope that everybody else has heard that message very loud, too,” Foster said. 

Negotiations have been pencilled in for Monday, and over the past 24 hours many candidates have referenced the need to get the Assembly back up and running after nearly three years of sitting dormant. 

When asked whether her leadership is in any doubt now, Foster responded: “Why would my leadership be in any doubt when … we have a job of work to do on Monday and that’s what we intend to do.

“My focus is very much on that, I’m not somebody who lies down when difficulties present themselves, I go through and I look for solutions and I’m looking for the solution of getting the Assembly up and running.”

Foster was then asked if she will be able to turn the current situation around for the DUP, to which she said: “We will turn this around, absolutely. Politics is about the art of the possible.”

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