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Foster honoured to become advisor to the Queen

By Noel McAdam

Published 14/07/2016

Northern Ireland First Minister Arlene Foster
Northern Ireland First Minister Arlene Foster

Arlene Foster has been appointed to the Privy Council - the government body which advises the Queen, it has been announced.

The elevation of the First Minister to the post had to be personally approved by the Queen.

Her senior appointment was announced yesterday on the Downing Street website, as Theresa May replaced David Cameron as Prime Minister.

Mrs Foster joins around 600 existing privy counsellors, among them former prime ministers and cabinet ministers along with leaders of the opposition.

Members include Prince Philip and Prince Charles, the current and former Speakers of the House of Commons, archbishops, senior bishops and senior judges.

On average the body meets about once a month and its sessions - presided over by The Queen - involve in practice mostly senior Cabinet ministers and other ministers attending.

The DUP is also represented on the Privy Council by its former leader Peter Robinson, who was appointed when he was East Belfast MP, deputy leader Nigel Dodds and Lagan Valley MP Sir Jeffrey Donaldson, who was knighted in the recent Queen's Birthday Honours.

Congratulating Mrs Foster on her appointment, Mr Dodds said it showed the high esteem in which the First Minister is held across the United Kingdom.

And the North Belfast MP argued the announcement demonstrates that she is regarded across the UK "as the leader of our Province".

Mrs Foster was not immediately available for comment but was said to be "delighted" by the honour.

Mr Dodds said: "I warmly congratulate Arlene on being appointed by Her Majesty the Queen to the Privy Council.

"Today's appointment is a testament to the fact that Arlene, as our First Minister and party leader, is held in high esteem not only in Northern Ireland but throughout the United Kingdom.

"It is right and proper that the First Minister of Northern Ireland is a member of the Privy Council, alongside her counterparts in Wales and Scotland.

"Arlene Foster is recognised as the undisputed leader of unionism in Northern Ireland following the Assembly election in May and today's elevation again highlights the fact she is recognised throughout the United Kingdom as the leader of our Province."

The Fermanagh and South Tyrone MLA, who replaced Mr Robinson as DUP leader just before Christmas and then as First Minister in January, was one of four appointments announced yesterday.

She was joined by Ruth Davidson, leader of the Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party and MSP for Edinburgh Central; David Gauke. the Financial Secretary to the Treasury and MP for South West Hertfordshire and Ed Vaizey MP, who is the Minister of State for Culture, Communications and Creative Industries and the MP for Wantage in Oxfordshire.

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