Arlene Foster confident of being returned as Northern Ireland's First Minister
Arlene Foster has said she expects to returned as First Minister of Northern Ireland.
The DUP leader was speaking after topping the poll in Fermanagh-South Tyrone.
She was elected on the first count with over 8,000 first preference votes.
Outside the count centre in Omagh, she told journalists: “I’m confident that I am going to be the First Minister and that’s down to the people of Northern Ireland.
“They made their choice and I’m very grateful for it.”
In her first election as DUP leader, Mrs Foster polled 8,801 first preference votes.
She was the only candidate elected on the first count at Omagh Leisure Centre, although party colleague Maurice Morrow was returned on the second count.
Mrs Foster added: “It was never about topping the poll because Maurice and I wanted to return together.”
Reflecting on the DUP’s performance across Northern Ireland, she added: “It looks good at this present moment in time but we’re very conscious that when it comes, in some cases, to the last seat, it can be down to a handful of votes, so we’ll wait to see what happens.
“But I have to say that initially it looks very good for the party and I have to thank people for putting their trust in the party and me as First Minister.”
Responding to criticism of the DUP campaign, she added: “I think the criticism probably came from the media. I think the electorate has given them their answer.”