Arlene Foster

Arlene Foster

Infobox Politician | name=Arlene Foster MLA

office = Minister for Environment
term_start = 8 May 2007
term_end =
predecessor= Dermot Nesbitt
constituency_AM3= Fermanagh and South Tyrone
assembly3=Northern Ireland
birth_date=birth date and age|1970|7|3|df=y
birth_place=Northern Ireland
party=Democratic Unionist Party
website= [ DUP profile]

Arlene Isabel Foster (née Kelly) (b. July 1970) is a Northern Irish unionist politician. She is one of two Democratic Unionist Party MLAs representing the Fermanagh and South Tyrone constituency in the Northern Ireland Assembly alongside Maurice Morrow. She became Minister for Environment on 8 May 2007 and was subsequently reshuffled into the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment on 9 June 2008. Foster is married and has three childrenFact|date=April 2008.


Foster was raised near Lisnaskea in County Fermanagh. Her experience with the Troubles began early in her life. A bomb was discovered under a bus she was travelling to school in. A night-time attempt was made to shoot her father, a Royal Ulster Constabulary reservist, at her homeFact|date=April 2008.

She was educated at Queen's University, Belfast where she graduated with a LLB degreeFact|date=April 2008. It was at Queen's University where her political career began after joining the Queen's Ulster Unionist Party Association.Fact|date=April 2008 She served as the association's chairwoman from 1992 to 1993.Fact|date=April 2008 After leaving Queen's University, she remained active in the Ulster Unionist Party, chairing its youth wing, the Ulster Young Unionist Council, in 1995Fact|date=April 2008. In 1996, she became an Honorary Secretary of the UUP's ruling body, the Ulster Unionist Council, a position which she held until her resignation from the UUP on 18 December 2003Fact|date=April 2008.

Early political life

She was elected as an Ulster Unionist in the 2003 Assembly elections, but shortly afterwards resigned from the party and joined the DUP, together with fellow Assembly members Jeffrey Donaldson and Norah Beare. She was selected as the DUP's candidate for Fermanagh & South Tyrone in the United Kingdom general election, 2005. Negotiations took place between the local branches of the DUP and UUP with the aim of finding an agreed unionist candidate. The negotiations broke down with neither party willing to accept the electoral dominance of the other; the UUP claiming Foster's defection to the DUP disguised the reality of the UUP's electoral strength, whilst the DUP pointed to change in the unionist political landscape following the 2003 Assembly election and 2004 European Parliament election. The UUP candidate was Tom Elliott. Foster finished second in the 2005 general election with 14,056 votes.

Minister for Environment

In September 2007, a privately financed proposal for a new Giant's Causeway centre was given preliminary approval by the new Northern Ireland Environment Minister and Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) member Arlene Foster. [ [ BBC News] ] Immediately afterwards, the public money that had been allocated to the Causeway development was frozen. The proposal resulted in a very public row about the relationship between the private developer Seymour Sweeney and the DUP; Mr Sweeney is a member of the DUP, although both parties deny that Mr Sweeney has ever given to the party financially. [ [ BBC News] ] On 29 January 2008, Minister Foster announced that she had now decided against Mr Sweeney's proposal for a new visitors' centre, reversing her earlier position of "being minded" to approve it. [cite news | first=David | last=Gordon | title=Foster ditches Sweeney centre | work=The Belfast Telegraph | pages= 1-2 | date=2008-01-29 ] . Although the public funds for a Causeway scheme remain frozen for the moment, it seems highly likely that the publicly funded plan for the Causeway will now go ahead after all.


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