Belfast Telegraph

Arlene Foster: DUP will work to deliver for people who put trust in party

By Arlene Foster

On June 8, 292,316 people voted for Democratic Unionist candidates. I remain deeply humbled by such an extraordinary mandate.

People rallied to the DUP because it was the strongest unionist party and the party best placed to move Northern Ireland forward.

Those votes elected 10 MPs and placed the DUP at the heart of UK politics and in an incredibly influential position. It is a massive opportunity, but a responsibility I do not take lightly. We are determined to utilise this position to help deliver stable government in the United Kingdom and address long-standing issues which affect everyone in Northern Ireland.

Last night, I travelled to London with our Parliamentary Leader Nigel Dodds MP and House of Commons Chief Whip Sir Jeffrey Donaldson MP for further meetings with the Prime Minister today.

Since the general election, we have been engaged with the Prime Minister and her team to explore how we can work together.

Progress has been slow at times but we continue to work through the issues. I believe we are close to concluding an appropriate agreement with the Conservative Party to support a minority government on a confidence and supply basis.

The Conservative Party and the DUP have common principles of supporting the Union and delivering a safer and more prosperous United Kingdom.

As Northern Ireland, alongside the rest of the United Kingdom, exits the European Union, I want to ensure we are in a strong position of influence to get the best deal for those who live and work here.

If there was ever an election which exposed the fallacy of MPs not taking their seats, this one has.

With only 11 of Northern Ireland's 18 MPs taking their seats in the House of Commons, I can assure people in every constituency, DUP MPs will speak up for everyone and will seek to deliver for everyone.

Whilst focusing on stable government in London, I am frustrated that almost four months after the Assembly election no Executive has been formed in Northern Ireland.

This has led to a vacuum in leadership within government and also plunged schools, hospitals and community sector organisations into financial uncertainty in the absence of a budget.

This cannot continue.

I wanted an Executive formed immediately after the election so we could get on with governing whilst a talks process to discuss other matters continued in parallel.

That has not happened but I remain determined to do all I can to ensure local ministers are back in charge of Northern Ireland departments.

At our manifesto launch a few weeks ago, I urged people to vote for the restoration of devolution, to get the best negotiating team for Northern Ireland as we leave the EU and to get MPs who would work to strengthen the Union.

The electorate responded to that call and the DUP MPs, MLAs, MEP and councillors will work together to ensure we deliver for those who placed their trust in us.

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