FERMANAGH South Tyrone MLA Arlene Foster has indicated that she will stand down as an MLA at the end of this month.

The former First Minister announced her plans to stand down from political life earlier this year after her DUP colleagues ousted her in a party revolt.

Her successor, Edwin Poots, was 21 days in the role of DUP leader before he resigned from the role following a revolt at his leadership.

Sir Jeffrey Donaldson is currently the leader of the DUP.

In a statement on Tuesday night, September 7, Mrs. Foster said: "As announced, I plan to step down from the [Northern Ireland] Assembly.

"The process for a co-option has already commenced and will be completed by the end of September."

Mrs. Foster was first elected to the NI Assembly as an Ulster Unionist MLA in 2003.

The rumoured front-runner for the role of succeeding Mrs. Foster as Fermanagh South Tyrone MLA is DUP Erne North Councillor Deborah Erskine.

Mrs. Erskine is a former journalist, was also formerly a DUP press officer, and is a close ally of Mrs. Foster.

Earlier this year, Councillor Erskine spoke to The Impartial Reporter about her journey into politics with the help of Mrs. Foster.

She said: “Arlene [Foster] took me under her wing whenever I was a young teenager, and really encouraged my political journey and where I was going in politics.”

Councillor Erskine was approached for comment by this newspaper regarding plans for her political future, but declined to comment on the matter, directing this newspaper instead to the DUP Press Office.

A spokesperson for the DUP confirmed that the process to replace Mrs. Foster as Fermanagh South Tyrone MLA is under way, but made no comment regarding Mrs. Erskine.

Once the co-option process is complete, it will mean that Fermanagh South Tyrone has now had three co-opted MLAs within this Assembly term.

Sinn Féin’s Colm Gildernew was co-opted to replace Michelle Gildernew following the 2017 General Election, Áine Murphy was co-opted earlier this year to replace Sean Lynch upon his retirement, with whoever is co-opted to replace Mrs. Foster set to be the third co-opted MLA.

Two of Fermanagh South Tyrone’s five MLAs have not been co-opted – Ulster Unionist Rosemary Barton, and Sinn Féin’s Jemma Dolan.