THEY say a week is a long time in politics and no one knows this better than Dame Arleen Foster.
The former first minister took her place in the House of Lords last Thursday after being the subject of pro-IRA chants the previous weekend.
The incident in which a woman chanted “Up the Ra” while filming a video with her at the Local Women’s Business Awards at the Europa Hotel had left the former DUP leader “very disappointed”.
Dame Arlene was much happier on this occasion though, as she took to the famous red leather benches where she will now be referred to as Baroness Foster of Aghadrumsee.
Raised in the townland of Dernawilt, on the outskirts of Aghadrumsee – from Irish Achadh Dhruim Saileach, meaning ‘field of the ridge of sallows’ – she will sit as a non-affiliated peer.
When Dame Arlene was aged nine, her family later moved to a housing estate in nearby Lisnaskea, after an IRA attack on the family home.
Wearing the traditional scarlet robes for the short introduction ceremony in the upper chamber, she swore the oath of allegiance to the king before taking her place among the other peers.
It was a very different scenario to what she experienced at the Local Women’s Business Awards. In the video, the woman poses for a selfie with Dame Arlene before starting to chant “Up the Ra!”.
During the clip, the ex-first minister can be heard saying: “Oh please, don’t start that.”
Speaking on GB News, she said: “This lady came up to me and shouts ‘Ooh aah up the Ra’ as if it’s some culturally cool thing to do. It’s not.
“The worry for me is that it’s so disappointing that a young person should think that’s acceptable in society.”
Dame Arlene invited the young woman, who she understood to be from Crossmaglen, to visit her father’s graveside to help her understand the impact of the IRA’s actions. Her father John Kelly was shot and severely injured by the IRA in 1979.
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