The fate of Brexit is in her hands: Arlene Foster, 49, head of the small Unionist party DUP, has acquired her strong political convictions during the Troubles that have bloodied Northern Ireland, and steadfastly defends the union of her province with the United Kingdom.
London and Brussels announced Thursday that they have found a new Brexit agreement two weeks before the planned divorce date between the EU and the UK. But the text must also be approved by the British Parliament where the party of Ms. Foster, with its 10 deputies, is the indispensable ally of the Conservatives of Prime Minister Boris Johnson whose most Europhobic deputies will align with his position.
However, the DUP clearly expressed its reluctance on Thursday morning to the agreement reached, thus making it unlikely to be adopted by Parliament.
For Arlene Foster, a passionate unionist, does not compromise with her principles and all that goes in the direction of a status different from that of the rest of the United Kingdom for the province of Northern Ireland is unacceptable to her.
His convictions were forged in the blood. She was eight years old, in 1979, when men from the Irish Republican Army (IRA) fired a bullet into the head of her father, a part-time police officer, at their farm near the border, heavily militarized at the border. time, with the Republic of Ireland. He survives the attack.
At 16, she survived an attack on her school bus, perpetrated by the IRA, which targeted the driver, a member of the armed forces.
This woman with a strong character, short hair and brown, impressive appearance, is a lawyer trained in negotiations. She had managed to raise more than £ 1 billion for her province in exchange for her support for former governor Theresa May.
Married with three children, she was until recently Northern Ireland's premier, before having to leave his post, embroiled in a scandal over the management of renewable energy subsidies.
She is in line with her party's ultra-conservative ideas of morality, hostility to abortion and same-sex marriage, which are also banned in the province.
'Shaped' by the attacks
Arlene Foster explained that the attacks she witnessed as a child had built her vision of life in an interview with the Belfast Telegraph. "It's part of who I am, you can not take it away, it has shaped my adolescence, my political choices, but at the same time, I do not think we have to let the past decide the future."
She studied law at Queen's University in Belfast before joining the Association of Young Unionists, the youth organization of the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP), the main Protestant formation that ruled almost unopposed in Northern Ireland since the creation of the province in 1922, at the time of Ireland's independence.
She was elected to the new Northern Ireland Assembly in 2003, and left the UUP the following year to join the DUP because she disagreed with the terms of the Northern Ireland peace agreement that ended in 1998. three decades of violence, negotiated by the UUP.
And she quickly progressed in her ranks. Until becoming Premier of Northern Ireland in January 2016.
She had a stormy relationship with her Deputy Prime Minister Martin McGuiness, a Republican Party leader Sinn Fein, who, ill, resigns in January 2017 and dies a few weeks later. The two parties are indeed forced to govern together at the end of the peace agreement of 1998.
But since then, Foster and Sinn Fein have failed to agree, and the current affairs of the province are handled by London.