McCann meets….Arlene Foster MLA #dup13

I took a trip up to the DUP Conference yesterday to interview some of the key figures within the party. I spoke with several Ministers namely Simon Hamilton, Edwin Poots and Arlene Foster. Just after her conference speech I spoke with the Enterprise Minister and possible future leader, Arlene Foster.

We spoke about a variety of issues from the European elections to her feud with Phil Flanagan MLA and her shift from the UUP to the DUP.

Below are some select quotes from the piece but it’s worth having a listen to all of it as it is only 11 minutes long.

On the party running a second candidate for the European Election;

It has been talked about and we haven’t completely decided on that issue as yet and we will come to a determination on that soon.

On Phil Flanagan’s criticism of her record of job creation;

It’s utter rubbish. In fact one of the things we did at the start of the recession was to create the jobs fund because people were saying to us there maybe high level jobs available but one of the difficulties particularly for the unskilled is that we can’t find work. So the jobs fund was created to try and fill that gap. So I’m criticised for not providing jobs of a particular level for people but when I bring an intervention to bring those jobs about I’m criticised as well so people cannot have it both ways.

On job creation west of the Bann;

When Belfast is competing it’s competing against Dublin and London and other capital cities. So people have to understand that and I think most reasonable people do understand that. In regards to the west of the province if you look at what we are doing there we are trying to encourage our indigenous companies…we’re looking at building up the infrastructure there with our gas network extension which is critical for energy intensive companies like Dale Farm…Phil’s criticism was that Invest NI haven’t brought a single FDI to Fermanagh. Visits don’t bring jobs, positivity and what the region is doing brings jobs and that’s the point I was trying to make to Phil.

On the pending flag march in Belfast City Centre;

My message of course is to keep the protest peaceful. I have always said that people have a right to protest regardless of what their issue is…but it is and has to be peaceful number one. People can’t feel intimidated, people need to be able to walk about the city centre and do their business…and as well as that I would for there to be engagement the traders and those who are organising the protests next week. Because I think that conversation are good and people have to understand the impact that each other’s having on themselves.

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  • Mc Slaggart

    ” I have always said that people have a right to protest regardless of what their issue”


    In the main shopping areas?? If it was a Republican parade complaining about orange marches would she think they should be allowed to march in the main shopping areas of the Belfast?

  • Charles_Gould


    Excellent contribution to Slugger as always. You seemed to get on well with Arlene Foster, while still able to ask her some penetrating questions. A very worthwhile interview with so much covered in such a short time.

    I liked what Arlene said in particular on bringing people back to NI – the need to have international firms operating in Northern Ireland as a magnet for people to come back to NI.

    I think she is a minister who is clearly passionate about her brief, and very much on top of it.

    Probably the best minister from among the DUP’s.

  • Charles_Gould


    Will you be publishing the results of your poll of DUP members, that you mentioned to Arlene at the end?

  • David McCann


    It was an informal survey of members and wasn’t scientific. Foster was by a mile the most preferred with Wilson second and Poots a close third.

  • Coll Ciotach


    Following your interview with Dr David will you be writing the hagiography any time soon?

  • David McCann

    Forgot to include my thoughts on Foster-overall she was incredibly confident and relaxed for someone in her position. That’s why the interview flowed in the way that it did.

    She does have leadership qualities and can work a room as I watched how she engaged with exhibitors and was able to relate to them and the causes they cared about. I always did like her but meeting her in person you can see why less than 10yrs in that party she is being considered as a future leader.

  • Morpheus

    Arlene Foster is obviously very capable and I have more time for her than the likes of Dodds, McCausland, Poots, Donaldson etc. but with the hugely disproportionate number of OO members within the ranks of the DUP do you think that misogyny might be a factor in her becoming leader of the party and effectively the leader of unionism David?

  • David McCann

    I don’t think so-the party will want a strong leader and Arlene can provide that.

  • Charles_Gould

    If it is contested then Sammy and Arlene would both be strong candidates and I wouldn’t like to guess which.

  • CoisteBodhar

    They had no problem making her temporary leader after Mrs Robinson’s affair was made public and PR took some time out.