Saturday 25 March 2017

Criticising Foster isn't misogyny - it's just treating her like any other leader

Arlene Foster. Photo: Niall Carson/PA Wire
Arlene Foster. Photo: Niall Carson/PA Wire
Mary Kenny

Mary Kenny

Arlene Foster certainly broke a political glass ceiling in Belfast when she became the first woman chosen to lead the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) in 2015, a movement whose founding father, Ian Kyle Paisley, seemed the very epitome of an Old Testament patriarch.

But there she was, emerging as the leader of Paisley's party, this mother of three from a rural background in Co Fermanagh, whose RUC father had been the target of an IRA attack. Within the politics of the United Kingdom, Arlene joined a grouping of other women - Theresa May in England, three women party political leaders in Scotland, and the forceful Leanne Wood, leader of Plaid Cymru in Wales.

But we cannot claim that Arlene has made a success of her stewardship. Her handling of the absurd 'cash-for-ash' (Renewable Heat Incentive Scheme) scandal prompted an election, which her party came within an ace of losing.

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