Northern Ireland government collapses but anti-LGBT Arlene Foster vows to fight on

Arlene Foster

Fresh elections will be held in Northern Ireland after the collapse of a power-sharing agreement – but outgoing First Minister Arlene Foster has vowed to fight on.

Sinn Féin ​has repeatedly called for the DUP leader to quit as First Minister over her involvement in the RHI scandal, a botched energy scheme she oversaw while serving as Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Investment, which has been hit with serious allegations of incompetence, corruption and abuse.

The scandal has now caused the collapse of the country’s power-sharing agreement, with Sinn Féin’s Martin McGuinness resigning as Deputy First Minister last week.

As no nomination for a replacement was made, the Executive has today been disbanded and fresh elections called under provisions in the Northern Ireland Act 1998, which mandates power-sharing between the First Minister and Deputy.

Fresh elections will be held on March 2, according to Sky News.

Democratic Unionist Party leader Arlene Foster, who is technically no longer First Minister, is expected to fight or re-election.

In a statement last week, Ms Foster said: “If necessary we will take our case to the electorate and use it as a platform for further discussions. I have never taken the verdict of the electorate of Northern Ireland for granted and while an election is not of our making we trust the judgement of the people.

“Last May people gave us a mandate and despite all of the challenges I remain dedicated to representing all the people of Northern Ireland. I want to do what is in the bests interests of Northern Ireland and I want us to be able to build a better future.

“Despite the undoubted setbacks over these last few weeks we have achieved much for Northern Ireland over the years. While at this moment in time it may seem all hope is lost I still believe we can work to achieve better and brighter days ahead.”

The DUP, which uses peace process powers to block same-sex marriage, ran on a platform of “defending marriage” in Assembly elections last year and is expected to do so again.

Ms Foster recently reaffirmed plans to continue employing powers to block any future marriage legislation. She recently defended her actions by insisting gay people don’t really want to get married anyway.

She said: “This suggestion that every single person who’s a homosexual wants to change the definition of marriage is actually wrong.

“I know plenty of people in that community who don’t want to see marriage redefined and are quite content to live in partnership… it’s all become a bit of a storm in a teacup.”