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Arlene Foster (1970–) is the former leader of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) of Northern Ireland, a party famed for being full of Young Earth creationists, homophobes, and anti-abortionists (while they are of course major advocates for the death penalty). She served as the First Minister of Northern Ireland from 2016-2017 and 2020-2021, but along the way managed to lose about £500m which caused the assembly to collapse.
Generic zealous insanity
She is a standard bearer of the DUP, being vehemently anti-gay, anti-abortion and an overall despot (but her party are for small government, naturally). She was previously a member of the Ulster Unionist Party prior to becoming a DUP member, the UUP are centre-right and overall much more sane than their unionist opponent. While a member of the UUP, she opposed then leader David Trimble as party leader for his advocacy of the Belfast Agreement (because she's disgusted by equality).
After Peter Robinson retired in 2015, Foster assumed his role as the leader of the DUP and First Minister of Northern Ireland. Many people were hoping the new leader of the far-right party would be more sane in comparison to her two predecessors (but no, the vicious sectarianism, homophobia and theocratic insanity would still prevail). In October 2016, she announced that her party would use the petition of concern to block gay marriage, despite the majority of Northern Ireland being in favor of gay marriage, because the Democratic Unionist Party are only democratic when it lines up with their agenda.
In January 2017, the Assembly collapsed because Foster (while serving as Minister of Enterprise, Trade and Investment) managed to fuck things up so badly that she cost the Assembly £500m thanks to a badly-constructed subsidy scheme for renewable heating which meant farmers could profit by building a barn and leaving it empty, heating it, and claiming back subsidies that were greater than their total costs. This led to a snap election in March 2017, in which the DUP lost ten seats and left them unable to solely use the petition of concern to block policies they find do not line up with their fundamentalist Christian values (as it requires 30 signatures). Foster still kept her job.
She was finally ditched by her party in 2021, when 22 of the 27 DUP Assembly members (MLAs) and 4 Westminster MPs signed a letter of no confidence. This was a consequence of her many failures: a Brexit settlement that put a trade border between Northern Ireland and the British mainland; the fact that she had abstained in a vote to ban gay conversion therapy while most of her party voted to keep gay conversion therapy legal; and a sense among DUP members that she wasn't socially conservative enough and failed to act on their petty grievances sufficiency.
- See the Wikipedia article on Arlene Foster.
- See the Wikipedia article on Arlene Foster § Assembly career.
- "Same-sex marriage: Arlene Foster criticised for 'childish' online abuse comments". BBC. 28 October 2016. "Mrs Foster said the DUP would use a petition of concern to block any change to the law over the next five years. […] Last year, a majority of MLAs voted in favour of same-sex marriage. but the motion was blocked by a DUP when it deployed the petition."
- See the Wikipedia article on Renewable Heat Incentive scandal.
- See the Wikipedia article on Northern Ireland Assembly election, 2017.
- Arlene Foster announces resignation as DUP leader and NI first minister, BBC News, 29 April 2021
- Arlene Foster: Why did the DUP move against its leader?, BBC News, 29 April 2021