Arlene Foster has broken her silence over the political row between DUP leader Peter Robinson and TUV leader Jim Allister over the sale of the 56-acre Ardmoney Farm at Brookeborough.

“It certainly wasn’t me who told the First Minister,” the Enterprise Minister told The Impartial Reporter.

The DUP MLA confirmed that she was the solicitor who drew up the will for Mr. Allister’s brother-in-law, but added: “That’s as far as it goes.” Her party leader and First Minister Peter Robinson has not made a statement since he rounded on Mr. Allister on Monday, when the TUV leader accused him of a “u-turn” on the Maze Long Kesh Reconciliation Centre. Mr. Robinson stated: “He chides me for doing business with Republicans, but then secretly and outside of the House, the member, as the executor of a will, is selling land to Republicans in county Fermanagh to benefit his own family.” An outraged Mr. Allister replied “that is a damnable lie,” later accusing Mr. Robinson of using Assembly privilege to make a false statement about him.

Mr. Allister’s wife, Ruth (nee McCullagh), found out that she was one of six named beneficiaries of her brother Bertie’s will after he passed away in a Brookeborough nursing home in August 2012. A nephew of the deceased was appointed as executor with instructions to sell the farm and divide it between the six. Mr. Allister issued a statement on Tuesday, saying: “I regret that my wife and her family have been dragged into the politicking of the First Minister.” Meanwhile, The Impartial Reporter has learned that two “leading lights” in Brookeborough Orange Lodge were forced to apologise to Mr. Allister in July after an argument at the Twelfth parade in Ballinamallard in which they claimed that he had sold the Brookeborough land to a Catholic. The incident prompted Mr. Allister to go to his solicitor claiming he had been slandered. Rather than facing a court appearance the two Orangemen issued letters of apology to Mr. Allister.

Fermanagh TUV representative Alex Elliott believes that, in light of this development: “Peter Robinson should follow in the footsteps of the two senior orange men and issue a similar apology. These were scurrilous allegations because they were false. Jim Allister obviously said he had no part in it.” Sinn Féin MLA Sean Lynch has said that “the tone of Peter Robinson’s remarks are essentially a signal that it is not OK to sell land to Catholics”. A DUP spokesman responded: “As a general principle, it is entirely a matter for any person who they sell their property to.” When approached by The Impartial Reporter, the family declined to comment. However, one family member contacted the BBC demanding an apology from Mr. Robinson for the “hurt” he has caused to the family. “His (Mr. Robinson’s) point of order besmirched the wider family,” the man said.

The Impartial Reporter also approached the farmer believed to have bought the land and he too declined to comment.

A sale has been agreed on the 56 acre farm, which has a two bedroom detached house on site. Speaking exclusively to The Impartial Reporter, Mrs. Foster stated: “I presume he (Jim Allister) put my name in his statement to try to muddy the waters, but here’s the reality: yes I was the solicitor, yes I made a will, but that’s where it ends.” Does this insinuate that she made Mr. Robinson aware of the sale of the farm? “Well it wasn’t me,” she replies.

Mrs. Foster continues: “If the insinuation was that it was me who told Peter Robinson, let me tell you, this story has been running right across Northern Ireland, right throughout the summer, it’s not the first time I’ve heard it.

“If anyone wants to impune my professional integrity they better be up straight about it and say it to my face rather than go about insinuations.

“In any event, if it had been me who told Peter Robinson, I would have told him correctly who the executor was.” She adds that once a will goes to probate, it generally becomes a public document.

Challenged on whether the age-old rivalry over the sale of land between Catholics and Protestants in County Fermanagh is still rife, Mrs. Foster replies: “It is not about who you sell your land to, and people have got the wrong end of the stick in that respect, including Sean Lynch.

“The issue is whether Jim is being consistent in what he says and does. He’s always accusing us of working with Republicans and how dreadful that is. Peter was simply making the point that if that is the case, isn’t it ironic that his family should be selling a farm to a Republican?” Asked for the DUP’s stance on whether Catholics are automatically considered as Republicans Mrs. Foster responds: “I have no idea who the people [who bought the land] are, as I say it was not me who informed the First Minister.

“I would have thought Republican is a political point of view whereas Catholic is a religious and community point of view.” Accusing Mr. Allister of “diversionary tactics”, Mrs. Foster continues: “It’s a nonsense to try and drag me into the middle of this issue because I was involved with the original will a number of years ago. The insinuation is that I in some way informed the First Minister of the contents of the will. Firstly, I have no idea what the contents of the will are. I made numerous wills in my time as a solicitor as you can imagine, and I have no idea of the content of them all.” Asked if she has spoken to Peter Robinson about the controversy, she replies: “No.”