18/12/2015

Arlene Foster Elected First Female DUP Leader

Finance Minister Arlene Foster has been elected as the first female leader of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP).

Mrs Foster replaces Peter Robinson who announced he is to step down as leader and First Minister in January.

She said it was an "enormous honour" to take up the role.

"It is truly humbling to follow in the footsteps of political giants like Ian Paisley and Peter Robinson," said Mrs Foster.

"For much of the last forty years this party toiled in the political wilderness but today we stand tall as the largest unionist party and the party of Northern Ireland.

"That is down to the hard work and efforts of those who have gone before me.

"And as a result of that labour this role is not just as leader of the DUP but the leader of unionism.

"I want to build on the firm foundations that have been laid and take this party from strength to strength.

"It is not a word of exaggeration to say that none of this would have been possible but for the work of Peter.
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"There will be other opportunities to make our tributes and to place on the public record our appreciation but I cannot let this opportunity pass without saying just a few words.

"We all know and history will undoubtedly record the role that Peter has played in building this party and building this Province.

"He was never stronger than when times were tough and never better than when there was a political crisis.

"Put simply we would not have government at Stormont today if it were not for Peter Robinson.

"We owe him a debt of gratitude that words cannot adequately express.

"He was instrumental in bringing me and others like me into the DUP and in consolidating our political dominance.

"Little did I think that when I joined this party eleven years ago that I would be standing here today.

"From the very first day I was welcomed with open arms and made feel at home.

"It is the strength of this party that we welcome all those who share our values and our vision.

"That is why we grow and that is why we succeed."

(CD)


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