Fermanagh’s Arlene Foster in line for new job

THE British government has refused to reveal the appointment process after it was reported earlier this week that former first minister Baroness Arlene Foster was appointed chair of Intertrade UK.

Concerns were raised about how Intertrade UK appointments are made, but the process that led to Ms Foster’s appointment to the trade body remains under wraps.

The British government has declined to provide any information on the appointment process for key roles in the new internal market trade body.


Details of the appointment process or whether posts were advertised were not divulged by the Northern Ireland Office (NIO).

The Stormont-based department has also declined to confirm Baroness Foster’s appointment to the body and state if the role is remunerated.

According to the Safeguarding the Union command paper, Intertrade UK will promote business within the Britain and Northern Ireland.

Meanwhile Ms Foster has said that some within her own party had encouraged her to “push the nuclear button” and collapse the executive during the most trying period of the pandemic here.

While giving evidence to the Covid inquiry in Belfast last week, Baroness Foster recalled this was the prevailing mood when Sinn Féin ministers attended the funeral of former IRA member Bobby Storey in June 2020.

She said she felt it wasn’t the right thing to do in the middle of a health crisis and described it as a “moment of maximum risk” when she had to manage pressures both inside and outside her party.

Ms Foster was also asked about controversial remarks made by DUP colleague and then Stormont Agriculture Minister Edwin Poots during the pandemic.


Mr Poots had suggested that Covid transmission rates were considerably higher in nationalist areas.

“Edwin is very much his own person in terms of his opinions,” she said.

“However, it’s not a view I shared and he knew it was not a view I shared and that it was not a view shared by the other DUP ministers either.”

Asked if Northern Ireland was “sleepwalking” into the pandemic in early 2020, the former DUP leader said it was “offensive” to suggest that.

She said that in mid-March, ministers were being advised that the peak of the first wave of Covid was still 14 weeks away – the first lockdown was put in place later that month.

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