Hi, I’m Arlene Foster, the former First Minister of Northern Ireland. I came to national prominence after the 2017 General Election when I led the Northern Ireland party, the DUP, into a Confidence and Supply arrangement with the Conservative government.
I’m no stranger to the media – in fact I made my first appearance on TV aged 17 after my school bus was bombed by the provisional IRA. I became involved in politics when I was at Queen’s University Belfast, and I’ve been at the forefront of advocating the positive and beneficial nature of the Union of the United Kingdom ever since.
A lawyer by profession, I was born in 1970 at the start of the Northern Ireland Troubles and grew up on the border County of Fermanagh where I still live with my husband, three children, and my gorgeous Labrador Max. I was appointed the Minister of Environment for Northern Ireland in 2007 when devolution was established, and then in 2008 I was appointed to the ministry of Enterprise, Trade and Investment. During this time I was instrumental in promoting NI’s tourism industry and securing record levels of investment into the economy.
After seven years, I moved on in May 2015 to become the Northern Ireland Minister for Finance and Personnel. I also worked as acting First Minister for two short periods in 2010 and 2015.
I was appointed First Minster in January 2016, becoming at that time the youngest, and also the first woman, to hold the post. I resigned in June 2021 and left local elected politics in NI in October 2021.
I became involved with GB News after leaving political office because I believe passionately that Northern Ireland a vital part of the UK and should be at the heart of any discussion about it. For too long, NI news viewers have been treated as an afterthought and I’m determined to change that. I enjoy writing for the Daily Express and occasionally for the Telegraph. In NI I have a column in Local Women magazine, about issues affecting and of interest to the women of Northern Ireland.
What are you most proud yourself for?
Stepping forward into political life as you can’t effect change from the sidelines.
Why is Northern Ireland important to you? What makes it special?
I am so proud to come from NI and to have been its first female First Minister. There’s so much more to NI than the headlines during the Troubles which unfortunately have come to define it in some people’s minds. Northern Ireland’s people and beautiful scenery are what makes it so special – we are innovative, entrepreneurial, resilient and above all welcoming.
Why is debate and balanced argument important to you?
After many years in politics and going through many long nights of negotiations, I know the importance of not only balancing a debate, but also of listening and trying to understand other points of view, even if you don’t agree. Social media has skewed the ability to have nuance in debate and I regret that greatly but GB News gives the opportunity to have a proper, respectful discussion and listen to all sides.
What attracted you to GB News?
The launch of GB news coincided with my leaving of local politics in NI and I’m a strong believer that things happen for a reason. As the local politics door shut the GB News door opened, and here I am. Obviously I’ve come to GB news through a different route than many of my colleagues but I love a challenge and I’ve picked up many skills over the years which I bring into the studio.
Your biggest accomplishment outside of work?
Without a doubt, my three kids who make me proud every day.
Tell us something that not many people know about you?
I love singing. I sang in a church choir through my teens until I got married and moved from my home church. I sang at the weddings of two of my friends!
Who would you love to interview?
I would have loved to have had the opportunity to speak with Baroness Thatcher. She was our Prime Minister right throughout my teenage years and made it possible for women like me to succeed in political life.