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The Explainer: Why did Arlene Foster make the shock decision to step down as DUP leader?

It was a decision that blindsided many – but what does it mean for the DUP and Northern Ireland?

ARLENE FOSTER HAS been the head of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) since 2015 – but this week saw a major change with the announcement that she is to step down.

While the move was a surprise in some ways, it was precipitated by a letter of no confidence signed by members of her party. The news of the letter emerged earlier this week, but the DUP played down suggestions that Foster’s role as leader was under threat. 

There has been growing discontent about Foster’s handling of Brexit negotiations and the Northern Ireland Protocol. 

One of the issues mentioned as being an instigator for the no-confidence heave of Foster was a DUP Stormont minister attending a business meeting with Tánaiste Leo Varadkar last week.

By Wednesday, news broke that Foster was to step down from her role at the end of June.

“It’s been a turbulent week, it’s been a week where I’ve had to make pretty big decisions,” she said at the time. “But I think the time is right to move on and to do something different, and that’s what I’ll do.”

On this week’s podcast, Dominic McGrath of BBC Radio Foyle (and previously of The Journal) joins Sinéad O’Carroll to talk through how this all happened, what it means for the DUP and who could step into Foster’s shoes. 

The Explainer / SoundCloud

This episode was put together by presenter Sinéad O’Carroll, producers Aoife Barry and Nicky Ryan.

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