Paul Givan hails Arlene Foster a ‘giant of unionism’

Paul Givan hailed Arlene Foster as a “giant of unionism” as he was confirmed as the DUP nomination to replace her.

Mr Givan’s tribute to Mrs Foster came amid continuing acrimony and bitterness within party ranks at the manner in which supporters of Edwin Poots instigated an internal revolt against the former DUP leader.

The Lagan Valley MLA, a long-time political ally of Mr Poots, praised Mrs Foster and the DUP’s two other former first ministers – Peter Robinson and the late Ian Paisley – as he was officially unveiled as First Minister designate.

Paul Givan
Paul Givan said he was looking forward to the challenge ahead (Liam McBurney/PA)

“I want to pay tribute to those of whom I’m following,” he said, after Mr Poots confirmed him as his choice for First Minister.

“Dr Paisley, who founded this party, as first minister, Peter Robinson, and of course, Arlene Foster.

“These are giants of unionism, giants within our party.

“And it’s a huge task to follow those individuals, but I look forward to the challenge ahead.”

Mrs Foster’s resignation will trigger a process that will require an Assembly vote on both Mr Givan’s nomination as First Minister and Michelle O’Neill’s renomination as Sinn Fein deputy First Minister.

Edwin Poots announces ministerial team
First Minister Arlene Foster, second from right, on the steps of Parliament Buildings on Tuesday (Liam McBurney/PA)

There have been concerns that this process could become a political friction point.

Mr Givan expressed hope for a smooth and effective transition when Mrs Foster stands down next week.

“There’s a huge responsibility that comes with this position, particularly in serving the people of Northern Ireland as we come through the Covid pandemic, the recovery that’s needed in our economy, within our education system, and meeting the needs of the people,” he said.

“We have a huge task when it comes to tackling our waiting lists, and we need to get to work.

“So what we now need is an effective transition that needs to take place next week, so that we have that smooth delivery of governance and that is something that I look forward to doing.”