Arlene Foster channels Sinatra for political swansong

Arlene Foster’s time as Northern Ireland’s first minister was not often accompanied by political harmony, but the outgoing leader attempted a tuneful exit Friday with a nod to Sinatra.

“That’s life! That’s what all the people say,” she sang at the end of Friday’s British Irish Council meeting at a lakeside resort in her home county of Fermanagh.

To approving laughs from Deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill on her left and U.K. Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove on her right, Foster finished the verse with a dollop of self-deprecation: “You’re riding high in April — shot down in May.”

Indeed she was. Foster’s five-year leadership of the Democratic Unionist Party ended last month after a surprise coup led by new party chief Edwin Poots. She since has remained first minister, in no small part so she could preside over Friday’s meeting on her own turf.

“I’m feeling incredibly proud today that everybody’s able to see my home county at its best,” she told an audience that included Irish Prime Minister Micheál Martin and leaders from the Channel Islands and Isle of Man.

The British Irish Council is an institution created by the Belfast/Good Friday peace accord that brings together leaders of eight administrations across Britain and Ireland. U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson, whose 2019 U-turn on the Northern Ireland protocol undermined Foster’s hold on her party, was busy at the G7 in Cornwall and sent Gove in his place.

The other leaders cheered the swansong from Foster, who plans to resign her position atop Northern Ireland’s five-party government on Monday. The first ministers of Scotland and Wales applauded zia Zoom.

O’Neill, whose Sinn Féin party often didn’t have a good word for the abrasive Foster, offered only praise for her performance.

“I’ve known for years she’s a good singer. Now we know what Arlene’s next move is!” O’Neill said.

“Absolutely,” Foster replied. “The Masked Singer.”



Source by [author_name]