Northern Ireland

Arlene Foster 'humbled' by colleagues' support for DUP leadership

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Media captionArlene Foster said she is "very humbled" by the support from party colleagues

Arlene Foster has said she is "very humbled" by the support she has received from party colleagues who want her to lead the DUP.

She has been nominated for the position of leader with the backing of a majority of the party's most senior elected representatives.

Speaking on Tuesday, Mrs Foster said she looked forward to leading the DUP, if that was the party's wish.

It follows deputy leader Nigel Dodds' decision not to run for the leadership.

On Monday, Mr Dodds ruled himself out of the race to succeed outgoing leader Peter Robinson.

It is understood East Antrim MP Sammy Wilson is still considering whether to run for the position.

Mrs Foster said she had hoped to work with Mr Dodds as a team.

"We will still hopefully work together as a team and that is certainly my wish for the future," she said.

Mrs Foster said she believed she had both the "ability and vision to take this party forward into the next 100 years of Northern Ireland".

Mr Robinson announced in November that he was standing down as party leader.

In a tweet on Monday night, Mr Robinson said he had "received a valid nomination" from Mrs Foster for the post of DUP leader.

"Arlene's nomination was submitted with the support of over 75% of those entitled to vote in the electoral college," he added.

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Media captionNigel Dodds said he wanted to concentrate on his work as head of the DUP at Westminster

Mr Dodds said he wanted to concentrate on his work as head of the party at Westminster.

He backed Mrs Foster, the Northern Ireland finance minister, "to take the party and Northern Ireland forward".

What happens now?

Nominations for the post of DUP leader close on Wednesday

An election (if there is one) will take place on Thursday 17 December.

MrDodds said he had always believed that he would only put his name forward for the leadership if he were a member of the Stormont Assembly.

He said he had gone on record to say that it would be a disadvantage to attempt to lead the DUP from Westminster.

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Image caption Dream team? Many DUP members expected Mr Dodds, left, and Mrs Foster to succeed Peter Robinson

Mr Dodds said that in other circumstances, it would be "natural and a great honour to lead the party," however, in his circumstances, it would be "wrong" to put his own personal standing above what he believed were the best interests of the DUP.

Having served as first minister on a temporary basis in both 2010 and 2015, Mrs Foster has already had a taste of leading Northern Ireland's Executive.

A solicitor, Arlene Foster has made a steady rise through the DUP's ranks since 2004 and is currently the Stormont finance minister.

She began her political career with the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP), however, transferred to the DUP not long after she was first elected to the assembly in 2003.

A key ally to Peter Robinson, Mrs Foster has extensive experience at the negotiating table and addressing news conferences.

In November, Mr Robinson announced that he was to quit as Northern Ireland first minister and DUP leader after "stabilising" Stormont.

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