Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 23 November 2014

Talks on new Executive to begin

DUP leader Peter Robinson dedicated his election success to Ronan Kerr, who was murdered as the campaign got under way
DUP leader Peter Robinson dedicated his election success to Ronan Kerr, who was murdered as the campaign got under way
Ronan Kerr

Northern Ireland's two largest parties will meet on Monday to discuss the make-up of the new Executive.

Democratic Unionist leader Peter Robinson and Sinn Fein's Martin McGuinness are expected to consider the appointment of a new justice minister as part of talks about the allocation of ministries, which is based on the number of Assembly seats won.

The DUP topped Thursday's poll, winning 38 seats, while Sinn Fein is the largest nationalist party on 29, both groups increasing their representation since the last election.

The cross-community Alliance Party is expected to fill the Justice Minister's position under an agreement on policing and justice reached between the DUP and Sinn Fein during the last mandate.

The Alliance Party could be entitled to another Executive seat after it increased its poll tally but the Ulster Unionists are expected to encourage re-elected independent former member David McClarty to return to the party, giving it enough Assembly strength to take the ministry from Alliance. Mr McClarty refused to say what he planned to do next.

Mr Robinson dedicated his poll-topping performance to Catholic Constable Ronan Kerr, 25, who died when a booby-trap bomb planted by dissident republicans exploded underneath his car in Omagh, Co Tyrone, last month.

He pledged to use his party's best Assembly election result to build a shared future for all in memory of the officer.

Mr McGuinness also committed his party to working in partnership at Stormont. But while Sinn Fein claimed an extra seat, the Ulster Unionists and the nationalist SDLP both lost two Assembly spots, while Alliance gained a seat.

Each of the 18 constituencies returned six Assembly members and after two long days of counts, the battle for the last seat proved crucial in determining the final make-up of the new Stormont administration.

In the end the DUP took 38 seats, Sinn Fein 29, UUP 16, SDLP 14 and Alliance eight. The leader of the hardline Traditional Unionist Voice (TUV) Jim Allister took a seat in North Antrim after the ninth count and without reaching the quota. The Greens' Stephen Agnew snatched a seat in North Down to keep his party at Stormont.

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