Arlene Foster, who is stepping down as First Minister, talks about her regrets.

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Arlene Foster, who is stepping down as First Minister, talks about her regrets.

Arlene Foster, the outgoing First Minister of Northern Ireland, expressed regret for not having had the opportunity to accomplish more as the country’s leader.

Following the restoration of the Stormont Assembly in January 2020, the former DUP leader will step down as First Minister next week after 18 months in the post.

Mrs Foster said she wished they had had more time to accomplish more at their last joint Executive press appearance with deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill.

They talked at a disused high school in Lisnaskea, Fermanagh, where Mrs Foster grew up, that is being redeveloped as a shared location for an Irish medium school, a health center, and a victims group.

Mrs Foster said she used to go to the former school as a Girl Guide, and she applauded plans to turn it into a showpiece initiative that she believes will “speak to reconciliation right across Northern Ireland.”

Ms. O’Neill paid respect to Mrs. Foster, saying that at the end of her last meeting earlier in the day, the entire Executive wished her well.

Mrs Foster said she and Ms O’Neill were focused on delivering on the commitments made in the New Decade New Approach pact when they took office in January 2020.

They got “consumed” with attempting to preserve lives and livelihoods after hearing about the first instance of Covid-19 in February.

“It has been a really tough moment to be a politician because we attempted to make decisions for the sake of our community,” she said. “But we recognize that people will want to critically assess all of that and what has been going on over the last 18 months.”

“As an Executive, we didn’t have the opportunity to undertake some of the things we wanted to do.

“I regret that we won’t be able to accomplish that today, and that we won’t be able to lead the Executive into achieving many of the things that we had outlined in New Decade New Approach.

“That is now up to others to do, and I do desire for the new. (This is a brief piece.)

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