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Arlene Foster set to leave Stormont as DUP marks 50th anniversary

Arlene Foster is expected to resign from the assembly. Picture by Liam McBurney/PA Wire

ARLENE Foster is today expected to step down from the assembly in a move that coincides with her party's 50th anniversary celebrations.

The party will tonight hold a commemorative dinner at Belfast's Crown Plaza Hotel, the venue that just a matter months ago witnessed public scenes in of DUP infighting.

Sir Jeffrey Donaldson, the party's third leader this year, will be seeking to unite DUP members after what has been unprecedented period of turmoil.

It was last night unclear whether the event will be attended by Mrs Foster, who was unceremoniously ousted in June after MPs and MLAs voiced no confidence in her leadership.

Her successor Edwin Poots made political history after lasting just 21 days as leader.

As revealed by The Irish News in July, Mrs Foster's is likely to be replaced in the assembly by Fermanagh councillor and one-time DUP press officer Deborah Erskine. The party has one week to nominate a replacement.

A forthcoming review of the DUP overseen by former leader Peter Robinson is expected to result in major structural changes at party headquarters, coupled with a number of policy shifts towards the centre ground.

Recent opinion polls suggest the party is losing ground to the Ulster Unionists, who are revitalised under the leadership of Doug Beattie.

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