Foster filling in for Robinson
Published 11/01/2010 | 15:33
DUP leader Peter Robinson has asked a party colleague to step in as First Minister, the Northern Ireland Assembly has been told.
Assembly speaker William Hay told surprised politicians in the chamber that Northern Ireland's current enterprise minister Arlene Foster has been asked to take on the functions of First Minister.
The shock move comes just one hour after DUP colleagues backed the beleaguered Mr Robinson, who was under pressure to resign over the scandal surrounding his wife's undisclosed financial dealings with her lover.
Mr Hay told the chamber: "I think it is important that I share with you a letter that I have just received from the First Minister.
"I wish to inform the House that I have this afternoon received written notice from the First Minister Peter Robinson that under the Northern Ireland Act 1998 he has designated Mrs Arlene Foster to exercise the functions of the office of First Minister.
"The designation takes immediate effect." He said he was calling a meeting of party whips to discuss the surprise move.