Northern Ireland

Dame Arlene Foster reveals plans for new non-party political pro-union group

Former DUP leader Arlene Foster
Former DUP leader Arlene Foster

DAME Arlene Foster has revealed that she working on a "new movement" that will campaign to preserve Northern Ireland's place in UK.

The former DUP leader, who has previously said she would leave Ireland in the event of unification, said the initiative would "disrupt the narrative that a united Ireland is inevitable".

She said the initiative, which is non-party political, would "look to the future in terms of our precious union".

Dame Arlene said she would reveal details about the movement later in the year.

"I think it's important that I reach right across the United Kingdom to do that," she told the BBC.

"And I have been working on a new movement, which I will talk to you about later on in the year, which is seeking to advocate for the union, seeking to disrupt the narrative that a united Ireland is inevitable, which of course it's not – and seeking to look to the future in terms of our precious union."

The former first minister-turned GB News presenter, who resigned as DUP leader a year ago after an Edwin Poots-led heave against her, said she had left the party and was "advocating on behalf of the union now in a non-party political way".

"It's not a new party, it's a new movement - and something that I look forward to speaking about in the future," she said.

"I think there's much to do in terms of the union – I haven’t gone away in terms of advocating for the union," Mrs Foster said.

"I will continue to do that, hopefully on a UK level, and to allow people to know why the union is something that will exist into the future, is economically, politically, socially, culturally, better to be in the United Kingdom – and I'll continue to put a positive case for the union wherever I am."

The former economy minister, who famously oversaw the rollout of the disastrous Renewable Heat Incentive scheme and the Northern Ireland Renewable Obligations scheme, said she had backed the DUP in last month's assembly election campaign.

In late 2020, The Irish News reported on the creation of a new civic society group that aimed to "celebrate Northern Ireland" and counter the campaign for Irish unity.

We Make NI said it was seeking to "debate our shared future in an inclusive, imaginative and a positive way".

Beyond social media posts, the group's profile has been distinctly low key.