A senior DUP member has said Arlene Foster is “right to stand firm against Sinn Fein’s blackmailing tactics” by refusing to step aside as first minister designate.
The republican party has shown no intention of backing down from its position of not forming a government with the DUP if Mrs Foster is nominated as first minister.
Despite Sinn Fein’s repeated calls for her to stand aside for the duration of the inquiry into the ‘cash for ash’ scandal, the DUP leader remains resolute and has vowed to stay in her post.
Giving his backing to Mrs Foster, DUP Westminster candidate Sammy Wilson said the party was fully behind her.
Speaking on BBC’s The View programme, Mrs Foster said Sinn Fein are “holding everyone to ransom”.
She added: “We have heard a lot from Sinn Fein about respect, but respect is a two-way process. Can you imagine what would happen if I said I would not share power with Michelle O’Neill.
“How dare Sinn Fein tell the unionist people who their leader should be. It is an absolute outrage.”
East Antrim candidate Mr Wilson said Mrs Foster’s refusal to accede to Sinn Fein’s demand was right.
He added: “Her refusal to step down is not born out of arrogance, but by calculation. What chance would any future Executive have of success if the DUP gives in to Sinn Fein’s blackmailing tactics.
“We have seen the ugly, intolerant and intransigent face of Sinn Fein since they almost became the biggest party at the last election. If we give into their blackmailing now, it will simply embolden them.
“If Sinn Fein are knocked back at the general election, unionists will have shown them they are not in the driving seat and cannot simply dictate to others.”