Northern Ireland news

DUP leader Sir Jeffery Donaldson has been 'working to mend fences' with former first minister Arlene Foster

Arlene Foster with Deborah Erskine, who has replaced the former first minister in the assembly as an MLA for Fermanagh and South Tyrone

DUP leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson has described the party's ousting of former First Minister Arlene Foster as a "very, very bruising experience".

"In my view it could have been handled so much better," he told UTV last night as she formally stepped aside as assembly member for Fermanagh and South Tyrone.

Chief Electoral Officer for Northern Ireland Virginia McVea confirmed Fermanagh councillor and former party press officer Deborah Erskine will serve in the assembly seat Mrs Foster has held since 2003.

Her departure follows an ugly public party revolt spearheaded by Agriculture Minister Edwin Poots who briefly took over the leadership before being forced to resign within weeks.

"I think Arlene and I both agree that there's a lot of fences that need to be mended and we've been working hard over the summer to settle things down," Sir Jeffrey said.

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Northern Ireland news