ARLENE FOSTER HAS confirmed she will leave the Democratic Unionist Party when she steps down as first minister of Northern Ireland.
Foster also said that if new party leader Edwin Poots appoints a new ministerial team on Tuesday, she will step down immediately as first minister.
She had previously said she would stay in the role until the end of June.
Speaking to reporters as she visited pupils at Banbridge Academy, Foster was asked what she will do if Poots unveils his team on Tuesday.
“My reaction is that I will resign as well because I have my ministerial team in the Executive with me, we have worked very closely together,” Foster said.
“If Edwin decides that he wants to change that team, I will have to go as well because I can’t stay with a new ministerial team of which I have no authority, and that would be wrong.”
Asked what message she has for the new party leader, Foster said: “Congratulations on becoming the fourth leader of the Democratic Unionist Party. It is a hugely rewarding job.
“There are very many good people who vote for us, who support us but he (Mr Poots) needs to recognise there is a lot of work to do in terms of healing divisions that are quite obviously there in the party.”
Poots reiterated today that he has no plans to “push” Arlene Foster out of post as First Minister.
Poots has not yet named his ministerial team, although he has said he will nominate a colleague to be First Minister in order to focus on leading the DUP.
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“I have said Arlene will leave at a time of Arlene’s choosing, I am not pushing Arlene out,” Poots told media in Belfast.
“That’s my position and that remains my position. I am not going to be rushed into doing anything or pushed into doing anything, nor am I going to be denied doing something that I am ready to do. We will look at all of these issues and take a decision at a time that is appropriate for us.
“I’ll reveal the ministerial line up whenever I am ready to reveal my ministerial line up, and that’s after I have continued my consultation process with my colleagues.”