Arlene Foster steps down as Northern Ireland First Minister

14 June 2021, 12:33 | Updated: 14 June 2021, 12:44

Arlene Foster has formally resigned as Northern Ireland's first minister
Arlene Foster has formally resigned as Northern Ireland's first minister. Picture: PA

By Asher McShane

Arlene Foster has formally resigned as Northern Ireland First Minister, saying she is looking forward to "fresh challenges."

Delivering a personal statement to the Assembly, Arlene Foster said: "I have tendered my resignation as First Minister of Northern Ireland, effective from 1pm today.

"Thank you to you and your office for this opportunity to address the chamber one last time ... and I promise not to sing.

"Mr Speaker, colleagues both inside and outside this House know very well that all periods of leadership must come to an end.

"That is why, when we are privileged and honoured with holding such a position, we must not waste a moment in frivolous brinkmanship but rather forge ahead on behalf of those we represent.

"Whilst I will miss the exchanges from this seat, I am looking forward to fresh challenges."

In her speech she said relations between the UK and Ireland and the UK and EU are "out of balance".

"An imbalance created by the (Northern Ireland) Protocol," she said. "It is not a real partnership. An imbalance and an instability is built in that will fester and deteriorate.

"If Brussels continues to think the protocol is enough, they are in denial.

"Imbalance and instability in the context of Northern Ireland is a truly dangerous cocktail.

"Northern Ireland is part of the United Kingdom and needs to be treated as such."

She concluded by saying that "strong, functioning and successful devolution" is vital to a successful Northern Ireland.

"Our Lord taught the parable of the Good Samaritan. I'm sure we have all heard it, but remember two people passed by. They closed their eyes to the injured Jewish man.

"I haven't always made the right calls. None of us are perfect but at the end of the parable our Lord asks 'Who is your neighbour?' - the one who stopped to offer help.

"Remember - stopping meant the Samaritan reaching out across a religious divide. It also meant him reaching into his own pocket and paying a price to provide shelter for the injured man.

"Let's be good neighbours."

This story is being updated