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Deadline day for nominations in DUP leadership race

The DUPs Sammy Wilson and Arlene Foster. Picture by Hugh Russell
Brendan Hughes

THE DUP's Sammy Wilson has until today to decide whether to make a bid to become leader of his party.

Nominations close at 5pm on Wednesday for the post of DUP leader to succeed the outgoing Peter Robinson.

Arlene Foster has already been nominated for the position with the backing of a majority of the party's most senior elected representatives.

The finance minister said she was "very humbled" by the support she has received from party colleagues.

But it is understood East Antrim MP Sammy Wilson is still considering whether to run for the post.

It was reported last night that Mr Wilson would make an announcement today on the matter.

If an election contest is called, it will take place on Thursday December 17.

DUP deputy leader Nigel Dodds was widely expected to take the top job, with Mrs Foster predicted to succeed Mr Robinson as First Minister.

But in a shock statement on Monday Mr Dodds announced his decision not to run for the leadership.

Mr Dodds also gave his blessing to Mrs Foster – a former Ulster Unionist MLA – as the next leader of the DUP.

The North Belfast MP said he was on record saying that it would be a disadvantage to attempt to lead the DUP from Westminster.

Yesterday Mrs Foster said she believed she had both the "ability and vision to take this party forward into the next 100 years of Northern Ireland", and that she hoped to work with Mr Dodds as a team.

Last month Mr Robinson announced that he was standing down as party leader and First Minister.

In a tweet on Monday night, the First Minister said he had "received a valid nomination" from Mrs Foster for the post of DUP leader.

"Arlene's nomination was submitted with the support of over 75 per cent of those entitled to vote in the electoral college," he added.

Last week former finance minister Mr Wilson had ruled himself out of the DUP leadership contest, while giving his backing to Mr Dodds.

Meanwhile, the south's foreign minister Charlie Flanagan announced that Troubles legacy cases including the case of Pat Finucane were discussed yesterday at the Council of Europe in Strasbourg.

The lawyer was shot dead by loyalists in 1989 and his family have campaigned for an independent inquiry to examine British state collusion in the murder.

The statement made in Strasbourg on behalf of Ireland said it was "regrettable" that the recent 'Fresh Start' deal at Stormont did not address provisions on dealing with the legacy of the past.

"The Irish Government very much shares the deep disappointment of the victims and survivors of the Troubles and their families," it said.

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