Arlene Foster criticised at meeting of DUP members for attending Ulster Football Final
Arlene Foster has been criticised for attending a Gaelic football match at a meeting of the DUP executive in Omagh last week.
The Fermanagh MLA is said to be facing challenges for her leadership of the DUP and was criticised for attending the Ulster final last year.
Mrs Foster was widely praised for being the first leader of the unionist party to be seen at a GAA match when she watched Donegal compete with Fermanagh for the Anglo-Celt Cup in June of this year, however at the DUP meeting her attendance there was criticised, according to Belfast Newsletter.
Her attendance at the game was thought of as an olive branch to the GAA community in Northern Ireland, the vast majority of who are nationalist or republican, but according to the report, there were some in the DUP party that felt she was overstepping the mark.
Mrs Foster was reported to have told those in her opposition that she has no intention of stepping down as party leader ahead of their annual conference at the end of next month. A formal challenge will have to be filed in order for Mrs Foster to vacate her position- something that has never happened before in the DUP.
A member of the party who was at the meeting said that criticisms of how Mrs Foster is running the party received loud applause as he described the meeting as “very acrimonious.” He said that the chair of the meeting, Maurice Morrow, tried to put an end to the debate but was unable due to the strength of the arguments.
At the meeting, which was kicked off with prayer and a scriptural exhortation, Mrs Foster was also criticised for the ‘cash for ash’ scandal and her defending of special advisors for the scheme.
Despite the heavy speculation of the DUP’s discontent with Mrs Foster, DUP MP Sammy Wilson told BBC Northern Ireland's ‘The View’ on Thursday that the party were firmly behind their leader.
"It makes great headlines but it is without foundation,” he said.
“Arlene Foster has gone through a very hard time, she has taken more flak than many people would expect any person to have taken.
"She has stood strong and I think that she has the confidence of people and will continue to, but we certainly are not in the job of feeding media speculation or weakening the party at a time where we have more crucial things to deal with."