Taoiseach pays tribute to Arlene Foster for guiding NI through ‘challenging period’

Ireland’s premier has wished Arlene Foster all the best for the future and paid tribute to the DUP leader and First Minister for her role in guiding Northern Ireland through this “challenging period”.

Wednesday, 28th April 2021, 6:33 pm
Updated Wednesday, 28th April 2021, 6:45 pm

Micheal Martin said Mrs Foster had worked hard over many years and that he “valued the constructive engagement, notwithstanding our differences”.

The Taoiseach made the comments following Mrs Foster’s decision to stand down as party leader on May 28 and as First Minister at the end of June.

The announcement comes 24 hours after an sizeable internal heave against her by DUP politicians unhappy with her leadership.

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Taoiseach Micheal Martin during a media briefing

Mr Martin said: “I want to wish Arlene the very best for the future.

“She has served during what has been a period of considerable change and challenge in Northern Ireland.

“She has worked hard over many years as an elected representative for the constituency of Fermanagh/South Tyrone.

“I know especially how proud Arlene is of her homeplace of County Fermanagh.

“Political leadership is often not easy and takes courage.”

Mr Martin described the re-establishment of the Northern Ireland Executive in January 2020 with Mrs Foster as First Minister and Michelle O’Neill as deputy First Minister as a “key development in supporting peace and stability for all the people of these islands”.

“The Northern Ireland Executive under their leadership has had to grapple with the Covid pandemic almost since the beginning, and I pay tribute to Arlene’s role in guiding Northern Ireland through this challenging period,” he added.

“As the first female leader of the DUP and the first female First Minister of Northern Ireland, working alongside the deputy First Minister, she sent a strong message to women about what can be achieved in and through politics.”

Mr Martin also said he had had a “positive working relationship” with Mrs Foster over the years.

“In particular I valued the constructive engagement, notwithstanding our differences, we have had in our respective roles as Taoiseach and First Minister,” he said.

“As a person who has personal experience of the suffering that violence brings, Arlene knows more than most how difficult it is, but also how important it is, to work together for the peace and prosperity for all.

“I am sure that she will continue to make an important contribution to public life.

“I send my best wishes to her and her family for the future.”

The country’s foreign affairs minister also wished the DUP leader the best, despite their “different perspectives” as she steps down from her political life.

Simon Coveney said: “Best wishes to DUP leader Arlene Foster and her family this evening.

“While we bring different perspectives to some issues, she has worked sincerely, tirelessly and with determination for her party and for Northern Ireland as First Minister.”

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