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Edwin Poots defends strategy following criticism from Peter Robinson over Foster's exit from DUP

Poots said: “What was good for Peter doesn’t seem to be good for anybody else.”

DUP leader Edwin Poots in Dublin this week.
DUP leader Edwin Poots in Dublin this week.
Image: PA

NEW DUP LEADER Edwin Poots has defended his strategy after former NI First Minister Peter Robinson described Arlene Foster’s exit from the party as a “deliberate publicly humiliating and acrimonious ditching”.

Robinson, who served as First Minister of NI from 2008-2016, criticised the way in which Foster’s exit from the party occurred, contrasting her leave to that of Ian Paisley in 2008. 

Speaking to BBC Radio Ulster’s Good Morning Ulster programme, Poots said Robinson is “out of the loop and therefore doesn’t know exactly what was going on or what happened”.

“What was good for Peter doesn’t seem to be good for anybody else,” Poots said.  

Writing in Northern Ireland newspaper the News Letter, Robinson questioned the strategy of those advising Poots.

He described Foster’s exit from the party as a “deliberate publicly humiliating and acrimonious ditching”. 

“More and more it is being said that for some in Edwin’s camp it is all about revenge as they could have achieved the same outcome without spilling blood,” Robinson wrote.

“The savage slaying of a leader in the public eye was totally unnecessary and vindictive,” he added.

Foster announced her resignation as party leader and Northern Ireland First Minister following an internal revolt within the DUP.

Poots was narrowly elected to be her successor over Jeffrey Donaldson in the first contested leadership vote in the party’s 50-year history.

Foster said she would step aside as First Minister on Tuesday this week if Poots named his new frontbench team.

This did not occur and Poots denied delaying making his ministerial appointments in response to an internal rift within the party, saying he will unveil the lineup when he is “ready”. 

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He indicated it would be announced in a “number of days”. 

Poots was in Dublin this week to meet with Taoiseach Micheál Martin. The DUP leader described the meeting as “positive, fank and useful” despite warning that relations between NI and the Republic had “never been as bad”. 

“I don’t blame the current Taoiseach for that, I blame the last Taoiseach,” Poots told reporters ahead of the meeting. 

He added however that he would “lead the DUP team” at the next north-south ministerial meeting. 

I believe that there are important issues that we need to discuss and deal with. On the basis that there is going to be a serious attempt to assist in dealing with the protocol I believe that we should be seeking to help normalise relationships once again.

The Taoiseach said the two party leaders had “an open exchange of views across a number of issues” including political developments, Covid-19, north-south cooperation and the NI Protocol. 

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