Northern Ireland news

Former First Minister Arlene Foster join GB News

Arlene Foster made her first appearance on GB News yesterday

FORMER First Minister Arlene Foster has joined the news channel GB News.

In the first major role since stepping down as DUP leader and first minister, Mrs Foster was yesterday revealed as a new contributor on the 'Political Correction' show, fronted by former UKIP leader Nigel Farage.

She said she was joining the channel in a bid to "bring Northern Ireland very much into the mainstream of UK politics".

In her first appearance on the channel yesterday, Mrs Foster said it was "very exciting to be here with such an august number of people this morning".

Asked why she joined the show, she said: "Two reasons really - first of all I see it as an opportunity to have a space for civilised discussion in a meaningful way.

"Very often political programmes are very sort of short and snappy and there is not an opportunity to develop stories so that is one of the reasons.

"Of course the second reason is to bring Northern Ireland very much into the mainstream of UK politics and it is something I feel very passionate about and something I thought as a student a very long time ago.

"That is the opportunity here in GB News and I am very much looking forward to it."

GB News, positioned as a rival to the current affairs offerings of the likes of the BBC and Sky, is fronted by veteran broadcaster Andrew Neil.

It is not clear how often Mrs Foster, who was DUP leader from 2015 until her removal in May, will appear on the channel.

During yesterday's appearance, she discussed her views on the Northern Ireland Protocol, vaccine passports and Brexit.

She argued that British Prime Minister Boris Johnson approached Brexit negotiations with Brussels always planning to change the Northern Ireland protocol at a later date.

Mrs Foster said she felt "let down" by the signing of the Protocol.

"Boris took the view that he was going to get Brexit done," she said.

"In order to do that he was going to sign up to the protocol and he would change it later on. That was genuinely his belief that he would change it later on.

"Now of course that has proven to be very very difficult."

She added: "As a result, Northern Ireland people are suffering".

Mrs Foster also spoke about the abuse she has suffered on social media platforms and said she believed "the companies can and should do so much more, in particular abusive users being able to post anonymously".

GB News has captured a host of high-profile signings, including former Sky Sports presenter Kirsty Gallacher, ex-BBC presenter Simon McCoy and former ITV presenter Alastair Stewart.

The channel has ditched traditional news bulletins and instead relies on presenter-led opinion programmes.

Set up by veteran broadcaster Andrew Neill to become the voice of right-wing opposition, it has already faced numerous issues since it went live last month from technical glitches to the resignation of a senior executive and a presenter taken off air for symbolically taking the knee on screen.

It broadcasts seven days a week across the UK and Ireland.

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