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Protestant Leader May Step Aside for New Belfast Unity Deal

DUBLIN (AP) – The senior Protestant politician in Northern Ireland has left the door open to stepping aside as part of negotiations to revive the British territory’s unity government with Catholics.

Democratic Unionist Party leader Arlene Foster said Sunday her party colleagues will decide whether she or an alternative is nominated as Northern Ireland’s next “first minister,” the top power-sharing post.

Foster was forced from the position in January when the Democratic Unionists’ coalition partners, the Irish nationalists of Sinn Fein, withdrew in protest at her leadership.

Sinn Fein this month enjoyed a surge in support in Northern Ireland Assembly elections, drawing nearly even with the Democratic Unionists for the first time.

Foster says she won’t resign as party leader, but potentially could hand the first minister role to a colleague.

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