Arlene Foster will not take part in TV election debates

DUP deputy leader Nigel Dodds is to take part in televised election debates instead of party leader Arlene Foster

THE DUP's Arlene Foster will not take part in two televised leaders' debates ahead of next week's Westminster election.

Deputy leader Nigel Dodds will instead represent the party on both the UTV and BBC programmes, due to be aired on Monday and Tuesday.

DUP sources claim it was always the plan for Mr Dodds to represent the party and pointed to the fact he is the leader of its group at Westminster.

However, the leaders of all four other main parties will take part in the broadcasts.

British prime minister Theresa May was criticised this week not appearing in a BBC debate featuring Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.

Home secretary Amber Rudd represented the Conservatives in the seven-way debate.

Sinn Féin last night accused Mrs Foster of "taking her lead from Tory leader Theresa May and ducking the leadership debates".

"The DUP leader is running scared of the electorate on the issues of Brexit, the RHI scandal, Tory cuts and the DUP's opposition to equality and respect," it claimed.

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