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Foster sets out her vision for future in message to party

By Noel McAdam

Published 22/12/2015

Arlene Foster at Parliament Buildings, Stormont
Arlene Foster at Parliament Buildings, Stormont

New DUP leader Arlene Foster has said too many people in Northern Ireland feel they are being "left behind".

In an internal party Christmas message, the woman who will become First Minister on January 11 pledged to make tackling educational underachievement - especially among young boys - a priority.

"We have the most highly skilled and highly educated workforce in the United Kingdom. We have so much to offer, but I am conscious that there are still some people who feel left behind," the woman who was Enterprise and Industry Minister for almost seven years, said.

"I am determined that no citizen of Northern Ireland starting out in life will be written off before they reach adulthood.

"(The DUP) will be working hard to tackle educational underachievement, particularly amongst young boys. We will redouble our efforts to ensure practical and meaningful solutions are implemented to tackle this problem."

Her message sent to party members and registered DUP supporters added that as a mother, Mrs Foster has "a special interest in making Northern Ireland work".

"I want my children to want to stay in Northern Ireland. When I was a child, we had a great people but there was little hope.

"I will work hard to ensure that our children grow up in a country they will be proud to call home. Northern Ireland's best is yet to come," she added.

She made another vow: "I promise you all that I will do my utmost to make our country the best part of the United Kingdom in which to live, work and raise a family."

She also pledged to work for victims of the Troubles and the elderly.

"Those who endured the worst of the Troubles and kept our country going through the darkest days can be assured that I am on your side," Mrs Foster, whose father was shot by the IRA in 1979, pledged.

As a schoolgirl she was also on a bus which was bombed - the target being the driver.

"The Troubles affected our home in a way I will never forget or allow anyone to rewrite," her personal message said.

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