Criticism in native Fermanagh

Posted By: January 10, 2017

SDLP MLA Richie McPhillips says Arlene Foster has reasons 

to be fearful if a snap general election is called

Gareth McKeown. Irish News. Belfast. Tuesday, January 10, 2012

DUP hard-liners aside, there appears to be growing disillusionment with Arlene Foster in her native Fermanagh over her role in the botched renewable heat scheme.

On a gloomy, wet day in Enniskillen yesterday the outlook for the under-fire first minister was no brighter.

Amongst the locals, there was a mix of anger, frustration and a small degree of sympathy, with all in agreement the scandal was not going away any time soon.

“I think she has gone down in people’s estimations,” retired chef Kevin Kettles said.

“She thinks she’s right, but she’s not right. The DUP think they are a level above anybody else and they can do what they want. Everything that happens they’re trying to blame Sinn Féin for,” he told The Irish News.

Another man said that “under normal circumstances” it should have been Mrs. Foster and not Martin McGuinness who stepped aside.

“She didn’t want to let go, and she didn’t want to, of course, give way to Sinn Féin, which shows stubbornness on her part. I wouldn’t say the people of Fermanagh are too happy with her at the moment, to be honest,” he said.

Another woman taking shelter from the downpours simply said: “It’s ridiculous, it’s a joke,” when asked how the first minister had dealt with the green energy scandal.

Editor of the Fermanagh Herald Maurice Kennedy said the RHI scandal had not reflected well on either of the executive partners.

“Even allowing for the usual circling of the wagons along sectarian lines, it strikes me there are a lot of people who are very disillusioned, not just with Arlene Foster, but with Sinn Féin who, many suspects, would rather this whole thing had gone away,” he said.

As for the prospect of a snap general election, Mr. Kennedy suggested it could play into the hands of both parties.

“If there is an election, Sinn Féin, and the DUP will, if anything, be returned even stronger than last year, although you can be certain that turnout will be well down. More and more people will register their despair at the whole thing by simply not voting,” he added.

SDLP MLA Richie McPhillips, above, disagreed over how the first minister would fare in the polls if an election is called.

“I would say she will have difficulty in convincing a lot of the people she convinced the last time that she’s still the person for the job,” he said.

“She’s shown very little humility and shown no repentance, which a lot of people aren’t too happy about. It will not augur well if we go to an election situation for her and for the party. She’s still acting like she’s done nothing wrong,” he added.

Fermanagh South Tyrone MP Tom Elliott said there still was “a degree of sympathy” for the Mrs. Foster in her home county.

“I think there’ll probably be a bit of a downturn against her, but how significant that will be, will be hard to judge,” he said.

“ I think that will come more from the neutrals rather than the hard-line DUP supporters.”