HER forced departure from the helm may have been ‘pretty brutal’ even by DUP standards, but the First Minister seemed remarkably relaxed as she paid a surprise visit to a local primary school this week.
If Arlene Foster was still vexed by the rebellion in the ranks, she was not showing it as she breezed into Creavery Primary. Far from it, in fact. Indeed, she looked as if a cumbersome burden had been lifted from her shoulders.
And for someone who had been somewhat battered in the recent past, she was certainly keen to look to the future.
The First Minister urged children to ‘hold onto their dreams’.
The pupils of one of the oldest rural primary schools in Northern Ireland shared their hopes for the future during the visit, including ambitions to be a world-class footballer, a joiner, a scientist and a health care worker.
“I am delighted to hear about the brilliant futures you are planning and working towards,” said Mrs Foster.
“It is important to hold onto your dreams as you move forward in life. But wherever you go and whatever you do in this world, you should always be proud of where you came from.
“We live in a place of amazing beauty and fantastic economic potential. But our greatest asset is our people. Each of you is a valued person with a great contribution to make. Never forget your worth.”
The First Minister had the chance to view a special exhibition of famous landmarks, including the Belfast Cranes, the Giants Causeway and Mussenden Temple, made from recycled materials.
And she was generous with praise for what she had seen and heard.
“This has been a wonderful opportunity to see and hear directly from the youngest in our community about what they love most about the place they live in and to share in their appreciation of our rich history.
“This school has served the people here for nearly 200 years and the dedicated teaching staff have contributed so much to creating engaged and enthusiastic citizens who are invested in making the most of the place we call home.
“As we mark the centenary of Northern Ireland, it is good to take a little time to reflect on our past and look forward to brighter times ahead.”