Robinson successor to be elected before Christmas

Nigel Dodds (left) is expected to replace Peter Robinson as the new DUP leader later this month
Nigel Dodds (left) is expected to replace Peter Robinson as the new DUP leader later this month

A successor for retiring DUP leader Peter Robinson will be in place before Christmas.

The party has set out details of the internal process for selecting the next person to take charge of Northern Ireland’s largest political party.

Current deputy leader Nigel Dodds is widely expected to be voted in by members of the party’s electoral college at an east Belfast hotel on Thursday December 17.

The poll at the Park Avenue Hotel will take place just over one week after nominations for the position close.

Any member wishing to be considered must secure proposals from two electoral college members by 5pm on Wednesday December 9.

The DUP’s electoral college is made up of 46 of its MPs, MLAs and its sole MEP.

Its decision must be ratified by the party’s 90-strong executive before the new leader is announced.

The executive will convene at the Park Avenue hours after the electoral college votes.

If North Belfast MP Mr Dodds is selected it is anticipated that another senior party member will take over Mr Robinson’s role as Stormont First Minister.

Current Finance Minister and Fermanagh and South Tyrone MLA Arlene Foster is tipped for that post.