Women in Leadership: A Conversation with Arlene Foster, Former First Minister of Northern Ireland


Location: Private Dining Rooms, The Morris Inn

Arlene London Launch X1200

Please join the Keough-Naughton Institute for Irish Studies and its Clingen Center for the Study of Modern Ireland for the first in a series of public conversations titled "Women in Leadership." This series will bring to the University of Notre Dame women from across the island of Ireland who are leader in the fields of politics, civic society, business, and beyond.

On Thursday, February 22, Arlene Foster, Baroness Foster of Aghadrumsee and former First Minister of Northern Ireland (2016-2017, 2020-2021), will take part in a public event at the University of Notre Dame's Morris Inn. In conversation with Colin Barr, professor of modern history in the Keough School of Global Affairs and director of the Clingen Center for the Study of Modern Ireland, Foster will discuss her personal political trajectory, her experience as the first female first minister of Northern Ireland's devolved government at Stormont, and her subsequent work as a broadcaster, writer, and political commentator.

This event will be followed by a reception from 6:00 - 7:00 p.m.

About Arlene Foster

The Former First Minister of Northern Ireland, Baroness Foster of Aghadrumsee was described in 2017 as the second most powerful woman in UK politics. A lawyer by profession, Foster was born in 1970 at the start of the Northern Ireland Troubles and grew up in County Fermanagh where she still lives with her husband and three children.

Foster was instrumental in establishing powersharing in Northern Ireland and served as Minister for the Environment when devolution returned to Northern Ireland in 2007. When Rev. Dr. Ian Paisley retired in 2008, she was appointed as Minister for the Department of Enterprise Trade and Investment, a position she held until May 2015. During this period, she was instrumental in promoting Northern Ireland’s tourism industry. Foster was appointed as Minister for Finance and Personnel in May 2015. She has worked as acting First Minister on two occasions, firstly for a period of three weeks in 2010 and then during the autumn of 2015.

Foster was initially appointed as First Minister of Northern Ireland on 11 January, 2016 becoming both the youngest person to hold the post and Northern Ireland’s first female First Minister, a term that lasted until January, 2017. After the General Election of June 2017, Foster led her party into a Confidence and Supply Agreement with the Conservative Party in order to secure stable government for the UK. The C&S agreement brought extra funding to Northern Ireland to enhance road and broadband infrastructure and invest in health and education. Following a three year hiatus of Northern Ireland's power sharing institutions, the Assembly and Executive were re-established in January, 2020, after the New Decade, New Approach agreement which Foster was fundamental in bringing about. She was reappointed as First Minister on 11th January 2020 and served until her resignation on 14th June 2021.

Foster is now a broadcaster, writer and political commentator. She presents “The Briefing with Arlene Foster” each Friday on GB News and writes a column for The Daily Express.

Originally published at irishstudies.nd.edu.