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North's new First Minister survived an IRA bombing

Arlene Foster has been named as DUP leader, and will take over the top job in January.

Image: Associated Press

Updated 10.30pm 

ARLENE FOSTER HAS tonight been named as leader of the DUP – and will take over from Peter Robinson as Northern Ireland First Minister in the new year.

The Fermanagh native was the only candidate seeking the role – and she was rubber-stamped as leader at a meeting in east Belfast.

In an interview with Sky News, carried out ahead of tonight’s announcement, the MLA has spoken about how she survived a school bus bombing in 1988. The IRA had attacked the vehicle in a bid to kill the driver.

The IRA also tried to kill her father, who was a part-time policeman with the RUC, she said.

He was also a part-time farmer and when I was eight years of age, the IRA came to our home to murder my father.

Sky News Source: Sky News

“Now thankfully they didn’t succeed and they injured him. It was a traumatic time growing up along the border in the 70s and 80s and I carry that with me.

I’m just glad that my children don’t have to carry that with them.

Regarding the challenge of working alongside Martin McGuinness as Deputy First Minister, she said she would respect Sinn Féin’s mandate.

Speaking to TheJournal.ie on Monday, McGuinness said he believed he will “get on okay” with Foster, saying he could work with anybody having dealt with her predecessors:

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Source: Michelle Hennessy/TheJournal.ie

Foster joined the DUP from the UUP in 2004, and has filled in before as Acting First Minister – earlier this year, and back in 2010.

In a statement tonight, Taoiseach Enda Kenny extended his congratulations to the MLA – who will become the first woman to hold the most senior political role in the North.

He said he looked forward to continuing the “strong working relationship” that had been established during her time as minister and that he hoped that the “very positive working relationship” that exists between Dublin and Belfast will develop further.

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Daragh Brophy

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