Northern Ireland news

Arlene Foster retains support of long-time advocate Peter Weir

Peter Weir and Arlene Foster, pictured during a visit to the Hammer Youth Centre in Belfast on Tuesday, have been loyal to one another for many years PICTURE: Liam McBurney/PA
Staff Reporter

WHILE Arlene Foster is now largely bereft of political allies, she appears to have retained the support of one long-time advocate.

As news of a no confidence vote broke on Tuesday, not one DUP member spoke in defence of their party leader.

However, Education Minister Peter Weir was happy to be pictured alongside Mrs Foster during a visit to Hammer Youth Club in Belfast.

The Irish News understands that Mr Weir is among those in the party who did not, and was never likely to, sign the no confidence letter.

Mr Weir has been loyal to Mrs Foster for many years and the first minister loyal in return.

Read More:

The two have known one another since their days as students at Queen's University Belfast.

Mrs Foster was recruited into the Queen's Unionist Association by Mr Weir and served as chairwoman from 1992 to 1993.

The pair later joined the Ulster Unionist Party around the same time and were both opposed to the 1998 Good Friday Agreement.

They were also part of a group within the UUP known as the 'baby barristers' who were heavily critical of then-leader David Trimble.

Both would leave the UUP and join the DUP - Mr Weir in 2002 and Mrs Foster two years later.

When Mrs Foster became first minister in 2016, she rewarded Mr Weir by appointing him as education minister.

He was the only DUP member to resume the same portfolio when the executive and assembly were re-established in January 2020 after a three-year hiatus.

It is now being suggested that he is at risk of losing his position should the party's new leadership re-shuffle its ministers.

Enjoy reading the Irish News?

Subscribe now to get full access

Northern Ireland news