Arlene Foster

Arlene Foster

Arlene Foster MLA.jpg
Arlene Foster in 2015
Leader of the Democratic Unionist Party
Assumed office
17 December 2015
DeputyNigel Dodds
ChairmanThe Lord Morrow
Preceded byPeter Robinson
4th First Minister of Northern Ireland
In office
11 January 2016 – 9 January 2017*
Serving with Martin McGuinness
MonarchElizabeth II
Preceded byPeter Robinson
Succeeded byVacant
Minister for Finance and Personnel
In office
11 May 2015 – 12 January 2016
First MinisterPeter Robinson
Deputy First MinisterMartin McGuinness
Preceded bySimon Hamilton
Succeeded byMervyn Storey
Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Investment
In office
9 June 2008 – 11 May 2015
First MinisterPeter Robinson
Deputy First MinisterMartin McGuinness
John O'Dowd (Acting)
Preceded byNigel Dodds
Succeeded byJonathan Bell
Minister for the Environment
In office
8 May 2007 – 9 June 2008
First MinisterIan Paisley
Deputy First MinisterMartin McGuinness
Preceded byDermot Nesbitt
Succeeded bySammy Wilson
Member of the Legislative Assembly
for Fermanagh and South Tyrone
Assumed office
26 November 2003
Preceded byJoan Carson
Personal details
Arlene Isabel Kelly

(1970-07-03) 3 July 1970 (age 48)
Enniskillen, County Fermanagh, Northern Ireland
Political partyUlster Unionist (Before 2003)
Independent (2003–2004)
Democratic Unionist (2004–present)
Spouse(s)Brian Foster
Alma materOfficial website
*Foster served as Acting First Minister from 11 January 2010 – 3 February 2010 and 10 September 2015 – 20 October 2015 while Robinson was on leave.

Arlene Isabel Foster MLA PC (née Kelly; born 3 July 1970) is a Northern Irish politician who has served as Leader of the Democratic Unionist Party since December 2015, and Member of the Northern Ireland Assembly for Fermanagh and South Tyrone since 2003.

Foster served in the Northern Ireland Executive as Minister of the Environment from 2007 until 2008, Minister for Enterprise and Investment from 2008 until 2015 and Minister for Finance and Personnel from 2015 until 2016. In January 2016, Foster became First Minister of Northern Ireland and shared power with Martin McGuinness.

McGuinness resigned as deputy First Minister in January 2017 amid the Renewable Heat Incentive scandal, which involved a green energy scheme that Foster set up during her time as Minister for Enterprise and Investment. The scheme was set to cost the taxpayer £490 million and there were allegations of corruption surrounding the scheme. McGuinness asked Foster to step aside as First Minister while her involvement in the scheme was investigated, but she refused to step aside or resign and said that the voices calling for her resignation were those of misogynists and male chauvinists.[1] Under the terms of the Northern Ireland power-sharing agreement, the First and deputy First Ministers are equal and, therefore, Foster could not remain in her post as First Minister. McGuinness's resignation caused a snap election to be held.


Foster was born in Enniskillen[2] and was raised in the townland of Dernawilt, County Fermanagh, located between Lisnaskea and Roslea.[3] She is a member of the Protestant Church of Ireland.[4] Her experience with the Troubles began early in her life when a night-time attempt was made to kill her father, a Royal Ulster Constabulary reservist, who was shot and severely injured at their family farm; the family was forced to leave the Roslea area.[3]

As a teenager, Foster was on a school bus that was bombed by the IRA, the vehicle targeted because its driver was a soldier in the Ulster Defence Regiment. A girl sitting near her was seriously injured.[5] She was a pupil at Enniskillen Collegiate Grammar School in Enniskillen, County Fermanagh from 1982 to 1989, and attended Queen's University, Belfast where she graduated with an LL.B. degree.[6] Her political career began at Queen's University after she joined the Queen's Unionist Association, part of the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP).[7]

She served as the association's chairman from 1992 to 1993.[8] After leaving Queen's University she remained active in the UUP, chairing its youth wing, the Ulster Young Unionist Council, in 1995. 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 2003.[8] She was a Councillor on Fermanagh District Council representing Enniskillen ward from 2005 to 2010.

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العربية: أرلين فوستر
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한국어: 알린 포스터
italiano: Arlene Foster
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português: Arlene Foster
русский: Фостер, Арлин
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