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Arlene Foster MLA

Incumbent
Assumed office 
11 January 2010
Deputy Martin McGuinness
Preceded by Peter Robinson

Minister of Enterprise, Trade and Investment
Incumbent
Assumed office 
June 2008
Preceded by Nigel Dodds

Minister of the Environment
In office
May 2007 – June 2008
Preceded by Dermot Nesbitt
Succeeded by Sammy Wilson

Incumbent
Assumed office 
26 November 2003
Preceded by Joan Carson

Born 3 July 1970 (1970-07-03) (age 39)
Northern Ireland
Nationality British
Political party Democratic Unionist Party
Spouse(s) Brian Foster
Website DUP Profile

Arlene Isabel Foster (née Kelly) (b. 3 July 1970) is a politician in Northern Ireland. She is the acting First Minister of Northern Ireland since the 11 January 2010 and one of two Democratic Unionist Party MLAs representing the Fermanagh and South Tyrone constituency in the Northern Ireland Assembly. She became Minister of the Environment on 8 May 2009 and was subsequently reshuffled into the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment on 9 June 2008.

Contents

Background

Foster was raised in the townland of Dernawilt, between Lisnaskea and Rosslea in County Fermanagh. Her experience with the Troubles began early in her life. A bomb was discovered under a bus she was travelling to school in. A night-time attempt was made to shoot her father, a Royal Ulster Constabulary reservist, at her home.[1]

She was educated at Queens University, Belfast where she graduated with an LL.B. degree. It was at Queen's University where her political career began after joining the Queens Ulster Unionist Party Association. She served as the association's chairwoman from 1992 to 1993. After leaving Queens University, she remained active in the Ulster Unionist Party, chairing its youth wing, the Ulster Young Unionist Council, in 1995. In 1996, she became an Honorary Secretary of the UUP's ruling body, the Ulster Unionist Council, a position which she held until her resignation from the UUP on 18 December 2003.

Early political life

She was elected as an Ulster Unionist in the 2003 Assembly elections, but shortly afterwards resigned from the party and joined the DUP, together with fellow Assembly members Jeffrey Donaldson and Norah Beare. She was selected as the DUP's candidate for Fermanagh & South Tyrone in the United Kingdom general election, 2005. Negotiations took place between the local branches of the DUP and UUP with the aim of finding an agreed unionist candidate. The negotiations broke down with neither party willing to accept the electoral dominance of the other; the UUP claiming Foster's defection to the DUP disguised the reality of the UUP's electoral strength, whilst the DUP pointed to change in the unionist political landscape following the 2003 Assembly election and 2004 European Parliament election. The UUP candidate was Tom Elliott. Foster finished second in the 2005 general election with 14,056 votes.

Personal life

Foster is married to Brian and has three children.[2]

Minister of the Environment

In September 2007, a privately financed proposal for a new Giant's Causeway centre was given preliminary approval by the new Northern Ireland Environment Minister and Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) member Arlene Foster.[3] Immediately afterwards, the public money that had been allocated to the Causeway development was frozen. The proposal resulted in a public row about the relationship between the private developer Seymour Sweeney and the DUP; Mr Sweeney is a member of the DUP, although both parties deny that Mr Sweeney has ever given to the party financially.[4] On 29 January 2008, Mrs Foster announced that she had now decided against Mr Sweeney's proposal for a new visitors' centre, reversing her earlier position of "being minded" to approve it.[5] Although the public funds for a Causeway scheme remain frozen for the moment, it seems highly likely that the publicly funded plan for the Causeway will now go ahead after all.

Acting First Minister

On 11 January 2010, she became the acting First Minister of Northern Ireland, as Peter Robinson stepped down for a planned period of up to six weeks.[6]

Northern Ireland Assembly
Preceded by
Joan Carson
MLA for Fermanagh & South Tyrone
2003 -
Succeeded by
Incumbent
Political offices
Preceded by
Office suspended
Minister of the Environment
2007-2008
Succeeded by
Sammy Wilson
Preceded by
Nigel Dodds
Minsiter of Enterprise, Trade and Investment
2008–present
Incumbent
Preceded by
Peter Robinson
Acting First Minister of Northern Ireland
2010 - present[7]
Succeeded by
Incumbent

References and notes

  1. ^ Arlene Foster - Profile
  2. ^ A privilege to serve says Arlene
  3. ^ BBC News
  4. ^ BBC News
  5. ^ Gordon, David (2008-01-29). "Foster ditches Sweeney centre". The Belfast Telegraph: pp. 1–2.  
  6. ^ BBC News - Peter Robinson steps aside as NI first minister
  7. ^ From 15 January 2010, Foster assumed the responsibilities of the First Minister from Peter Robinson on a temporary basis, although Robinson remained the incumbent.
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