Arlene Foster is a Northern Irish politician currently serving a Leader of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP). She has been a Member of the Northern Ireland Assembly for Fermanagh and South Tyrone since 2003 and became First Minister of Northern Ireland in January 2016. The 42-year-old mother-of-three slammed those who obstruct Brexit on the basis that Scotland voted to remain, stressing the vote to leave the EU was a “British vote.” But why does this outspoken and career-driven politician feel so much guilt in her personal life?
Arlene Foster was born in Enniskillen and raised in the townland of Dernawilt, County Fermanagh, located between Lisnaskea and Roslea.
She is a member of the Church of Ireland and she was introduced to the Troubles early in her life when her father, a Royal Ulster Constabulary reservist, who was shot at their family farm – forcing the family to leave the Roslea area.
As a teenager, she was on a school bus that was bombed by the IRA, the vehicle being targeted because its driver was a soldier in the Ulster Defence Regiment.
Now Mrs Foster is married to husband Brian and the mother of three children: Sarah, George and Ben, and above all she wants her children to escape those dangers.
She told News Letter: “Obviously I do not want my children to grow up in such an environment.
“I vividly remember when PSNI constable Ronan Kerr was murdered trying to explain to my eldest boy why anyone would want to kill a police officer. It brought back memories of my own childhood.
“I had hoped I would not have had to explain something like that to my kids.”
DUP Minister Arlene Foster has revealed the only way she can manage such a heavy workload, both at home and in Stormont, is by being organised and maintaining balance.
She told News Letter: “Before I was in politics I was a solicitor so I had to get out to work then anyway. I have always had childcare and help and I have always had to organise my life. All working mothers are the same.”
However, the mother-of-three did admit to feeling guilty, saying “it is hard being the child of someone who is in the public eye”.
She told News Letter: “I think it is in-built in mothers to feel guilty.
“No matter what job a mother is doing she will always feel guilty. I think that is true of whether you are a politician, a solicitor, working in a shop or anything else. Whatever you are you will feel guilty.
“Time is again about choices. If I am away early in the morning and I don’t see the children first thing, I try to see them before they go to bed in the evening.
“That is what I try to do.
“I suppose the most difficult part of the job is when I travel and whilst others might take longer away when they are travelling, taking a night either side, I never do because I want to get in, do the business and get home again.
“The maximum time I like to be away is four or five days.”
Today, Boris Johnson is due to hold a series of meeting with the leaders of the North’s five main parties at Stormont as those parties continue with their efforts to reinstate the power-sharing institutions.
The Stormont engagement is occurring at a time when London and Dublin believe there is now an opportunity to make substantial progress – as long as the DUP and Sinn Féin are willing to take some political risks.
On Friday, Tánaiste Simon Coveney said at Stormont the parties were “very close to having the basis for agreement but ultimately the parties have to buy into that”.
Sources revealed there was particular pressure on the DUP to decide whether this was the time to reach a deal with Sinn Féin or whether it would be best to await the outcome of the new PM’s Brexit plan.