Arlene Foster's leadership of DUP could be coming to end

Arlene Foster and Nigel Dodds

Foster's decision to throw DUP support behind May's successor Boris Johnson then backfired spectacularly when he broke the party's "blood red line" and agreed to Brussels' demand for trade barriers between Northern Ireland and the rest of the United Kingdom.

Northern Ireland's First Minister Arlene Foster answers questions on her leadership during a visit to the Hammer Youth Centre, in Belfast.

But former DUP adviser Timothy Cairns said a leadership contest was almost inevitable and Foster would be the "greatest political survivor in the history of United Kingdom politics" if she managed to keep her job.

The 50-year-old indicated her resignation would mark the end of her political career, as she said she was preparing to "depart the political stage". "That will require continued hard work and real determination and courage on all sides".

The DUP leader says these stories come up "from time to time".

"Sinn Féin will work with all parties to progress social reform, political change and economic prosperity - but we will robustly oppose damaging policies or regressive throwback politics of the past", Sinn Fein's Northern Ireland leader Michelle O'Neill said in a statement.

"I understand the misogynistic criticisms that female public figures have to take and sadly it's the same for all women in public life", Foster said.

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It emphasizes the importance of wearing masks, social distancing and getting vaccinated as soon as possible. Last year, the coronavirus pandemic forced many summer camps to close and families to change their plans.

She closed her statement: "The future of unionism and Northern Ireland will not be found in division, it will only be found in sharing this place we are all privileged to call home".

In addition, a letter has been sent from DUP councillors to the party chairman, Lord Morrow, stating they were "severely worried" about the state of the party and country and calling for Mrs Foster and deputy leader Nigel Dodds to resign.

The leader of Northern Ireland was fighting Wednesday to keep her job as members of her party tried to oust her over her handling of the fallout from Brexit and other issues.

Jim Wells, a DUP member who lost the party whip in 2018, said last week's Stormont vote on a motion to ban conversion therapy caused issues within the party.

She also acknowledges the hard issues that have been faced in recent times.

There has been growing discontent among DUP members about Mrs Foster's leadership in recent months.

Speaking on BBC Radio Ulster's Stephen Nolan programme earlier this week, Jim Wells said there was a "mass rebellion" brewing after the DUP asked all MLAs to abstain on the conversion therapy vote.

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