Foster, Arlene (Northern Ireland, United Kingdom)

Reference work entry


Arlene Foster is the first woman to have been both leader of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) and first minister of Northern Ireland. She took over from Peter Robinson in these roles and worked alongside the deputy first minister, Sinn Féin’s Martin McGuinness.

Early Life

Arlene Isabel Foster was born on 3 July 1970 in County Fermanagh, Northern Ireland. She studied law at Queen’s University, Belfast, where she joined the Queen’s Unionist Association (part of the Ulster Unionist Party/UUP).

Foster remained an active member of the UUP following her graduation in 1993, becoming honorary secretary of the Ulster Unionist Council. In 2003 she was elected to the Northern Irish Assembly. However, she opted to resign from the UUP and joined the DUP in 2004. In 2005 she was selected as the DUP’s candidate for the Fermanagh and South Tyrone constituency. She was minister for the environment from May 2007 until June 2008, subsequently becoming the minister of enterprise, trade and...

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