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DUP chief takes time out from very busy first day at office to sing carols

By Noel McAdam

Published 19/12/2015

New DUP leader Arlene Foster sang Christmas carols in Fermanagh to mark her first day in office.

A visit to the service at Portora Royal School in Enniskillen was the centrepiece of a busy day one.

But even in the spotlight, and as she counts down to holding the most powerful position in Northern Ireland, she did not forget her constituents and made sure to hold her regular Friday surgery at her office in the Co Fermanagh town.

Although she has now officially replaced Peter Robinson as DUP leader, Mrs Foster will remain as Finance Minister for the next few weeks.

She does not take over from Mr Robinson as First Minister until January 11, when the Assembly is set to resume after the Christmas recess.

Yesterday, she had no functions to perform or meetings to attend as Finance Minister, her spokeswoman confirmed, and so was free to focus on her other roles.

Mrs Foster, who is just the third leader of the DUP in its 44-year history, had an early start to perform a comprehensive round of media interviews for outlets based across the UK and Ireland.

Between 7am and 7.20am, she did two pre-records broadcast a short time later on the Cool FM Breakfast Show and Q Radio Breakfast Show, then:

l 7.40am BBC Breakfast News BBC1;

l 7.50am RTE Morning Ireland Radio;

l 8.05am BBC Radio Foyle;

l 8.30am Today Programme BBC Radio 4;

l 9.30am Sky News;

l 9.50am U105 with Frank Mitchell;

l 10.15am BBC NI Nolan Show.

The First Minister in waiting then went on at 12pm to host constituency office meetings, before taking part in a carol service at Portora Royal.

On her favourite morning radio show, Q Radio, she rang in as Arlene from Fermanagh and joked with the presenters.

Breakfast show host Pete Snodden asked: "Have you been a good girl this year?"

"I have been a very good girl," she insisted, before adding, "but that's for others to judge".

Mrs Foster revealed she would be having a traditional Christmas, and in typically down to earth fashion, said she would be cooking the festive dinner with all the usual tasty trimmings.

Some visitors to Northern Ireland for Christmas also met the First Minister in waiting yesterday.

Mrs Foster greeted a number of people arriving at Belfast City Airport, where she was appearing with weatherman Frank Mitchell for U105.

One man from Coleraine marked the occasion by taking a selfie with his son and the new DUP leader.

The organisation Northern Irish Connections was also handing out SOS boxes, including Tayto crisps and other local produce - an initiative launched by Mrs Foster as part of the Year of Food and Drink - in conjunction with U105.

She said at the time it was launched: "We have some of the best food and the best restaurants in the world, and the potential this has when it comes to tourism cannot be underestimated.

"Food tourism already generates over £350m per year to the local economy, but I believe there is significant room for further growth."

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