Belfast Telegraph

Foster: Eastwood and Nesbitt are pedalling junk like Steptoe and Son

By Suzanne Breen

DUP leader Arlene Foster has branded Mike Nesbitt and Colum Eastwood the 'Steptoe and Son' of Northern Ireland politics and claimed that they are making a political living from "selling junk" to the public.

Addressing her first annual conference as party leader, Mrs Foster cast the Ulster Unionist leader as the "older bitter man" of the double act, with the SDLP leader playing the role of his "frustrated, younger" sidekick.

Responding, and ahead of the bi-annual time change, Mike Nesbitt tweeted: "Steptoe & Son? How very contemporary! You were only supposed to put the clock back an hour!"

In a robust speech to around 500 delegates, Mrs Foster accused the Irish government of talking down Northern Ireland's economy and of attempting to "poach our investors", while at the same time expressing interest in hearing the views of northerners on Brexit.

"The one place that a hard border does exist is in the mind of the Irish government," she said.

Mrs Foster repeated her strong support for Brexit which, she said, represented the UK's biggest economic opportunity in decades.

She claimed political instability in Dublin, and fears for its own future, was driving its "decision-making as much as any concern about Northern Ireland".

Although she added relations with the Irish government were "probably as good as they have been at any point in our history" and she pledged to "continue to work with them where it is in the best interests of Northern Ireland".

In a stinging attack on the UUP, Mrs Foster said that while she welcomed an official Opposition there had to be more to it than "sound-bites, sniping and smug sneers". "Though we should be fair to the Opposition," she said. "They have managed two achievements. Colum has grown a beard. And they came up with the nickname 'Marlene' for the Deputy First Minister and myself.

"But poor old Mike and Colum - they're Steptoe and Son. For younger people here, Steptoe and Son were a very odd couple.

"One was an older, bitter man. The other was a frustrated younger man. They had to live together, but never got on. And they made a living selling junk to the public.

"Since the election, Mike and Colum have only been interested in one thing - themselves. No new policies for Northern Ireland, no alternative vision for where they want to take us."

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