Zak Mir

Arlene Foster on the Northern Irish economy, Brexit, and Jeremy Corbyn

Arlene Foster has been the leader of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) since December 2015, and the Member of the Northern Ireland Assembly for Fermanagh and South Tyrone since 2003.

In this interview, Foster discusses the DUP’s unlikely alliance with the Mrs May’s Conservative Party; why the DUP would not strike a deal with Labour anytime soon, and the British media’s ill-conceived perception of her party.

After the last UK general election, Foster was thrown into the political spotlight after Theresa May entered into a ‘confidence and supply deal’ to prop up the Conservative minority government with her 10 MPs, as the DUP are now the fifth largest party in the House of Commons.

This unlikely partnership has caused a bit of a stir in the British media, not only due to what the DUP stand for, but also thanks to a lack of information about where they have come from.

Foster explains:

‘I think the problem lies in that not much was known about the DUP until the ‘confidence and supply deal’ with the Conservative Party, as we (DUP) are based in Northern Ireland and we also weren’t part of any major debates, unlike Plaid Cymru or the SNP, during the UK general election. So people have just relied on the media [to educate themselves about the DUP]. The British media have tried to associate the DUP with some sort of paramilitary force.

I have myself have been the victim of IRA violence. My father was shot by the IRA, so I disapprove of any violence of the paramilitary type. I think it is absolutely wrong that we are being portrayed in that way.

We are a democratic party, we work for democracy and we believe firmly in democracy… this is an opportunity that has come to us because of the UK general election result. We want to do what is right for the nation as a whole and what is right for Northern Ireland.’

Foster believes the DUP has a lot to offer Westminster and the UK as a whole:

‘From the mid-1970s to 1980s when I was growing up is totally different to now, where there is foreign direct investment.

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