Foster interview: ‘Peter said he won’t tell me what to do’

Arlene Foster

Arlene Foster

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As DUP party colleagues, their relationship was close and one of professional respect and trust.

But whilst former First Minister Peter Robinson is happy to guide his predecessor when she requires it, he will not be enforcing his advice on her when she does not ask for it.

People vote for Sinn Fein, therefore they have a mandate

Arlene Foster

Confirming that she was “absolutely” still close to the ex-party leader, Mrs Foster said he had been “very clear” about his - and her - position.

She had previously been asked if she would do anything differently to Mr Robinson, and replied that she could not think of anything.

“Peter has said to me, ‘I’m not going to stand here and tell you what to do from the background.

“If you want advice I’ll give you advice, but I’m not going to offer it without being asked.’

“I think that’s absolutely the right way to proceed.”

The DUP woman also spoke out about how she finds it a “personal challenge” to work with Sinn Fein “in the way that we have to work under the current system here in Stormont, because of what happened in the past for me personally, and what happened to numerous people across Northern Ireland”.

But she went on: “I take on this challenge because we have a clear mandate to try to move Northern Ireland forward, and people vote for Sinn Fein, therefore they have a mandate, so we have to work with them.

“It doesn’t mean that we don’t think about all of the things that happened in the past - we do, and we do daily. But we use that energy as it were, to try and build a Northern Ireland for the future, safe in the knowledge that we will be in the UK.

“I was talking to a chap in Ballynahinch last night who had lost his father, and I said that the greatest tribute to people who have lost their lives or suffered during the Troubles is to build a stronger Northern Ireland every day, because that means that what they put on a uniform for or fought for, has actually been achieved.

“So that is always with me, it drives me forward, it drives me to make Northern Ireland a better place.”