Dame Arlene Foster to form pro-union independent group to challenge ‘inevitability’ of Irish unity

Ms Foster said a new movement made up of local business, cultural and sporting figures as well as pro-Union ordinary citizens would also highlight the benefits of staying in the UK.

The ex-DUP leader told the News Letter that among those she wants to consult ahead of the official launch of the organization would be leaders of the pro-Union camp in Scotland.

Former Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson and former Prime Minister Gordon Brown played key roles in defeating the Scottish National Party’s separatist campaign for an independent Scotland in the 2014 referendum.

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Dame Arlene Foster said the new pro-union movement should appeal to people from a ‘non-partisan political background’

“I just felt the time was right to form an organization outside of party politics to try and disrupt this terrible idea that a united Ireland is somehow inevitable, which it isn’t. Many of these nationalist pressure groups keep talking about the need to sit down and plan Irish unity but why would we want to plan something that won’t happen and most people don’t want to produce,” Ms. Foster said.

She said the new pro-union movement needed to attract people from a “non-party political background”.

“There are many people who are not involved in political parties but who are for the Union and we need to give them a voice to speak on behalf of the UK as a whole. This idea concerns the whole Union and not just Northern Ireland.

While Ms Foster stressed she ‘didn’t want to be typecast’ in terms of modeling the new movement on organizations such as ‘Better Together’ in the Scottish referendum campaign, she said she would like to reach out to people people like Ruth Davidson and Gordon Brown. ‘Better Together’ was the main No campaign against Scottish independence.

She also discussed her new job as a presenter on the online channel GB News and its relevance to her advocacy for trade unionism.

“One of the benefits of working on GB News is to bring a better understanding of Northern Ireland to a wider audience and to explain what is great about this place and the importance of this place to the UK.”

Ms Foster continued: “When you’re an elected local politician, you often don’t have time to focus on the big picture. You deal with the day-to-day business of politics, you represent your constituents and rightly help them and find solutions for them. Since I left party politics, I can focus on broader and deeper things, on the Union itself, promoting it and preserving it.

The first woman ever to be appointed as Northern Ireland’s premier added that she hoped to be able to officially launch the new movement by the end of summer or early autumn.