Foster launches DUP's campaign for the Assembly
First Minister Arlene Foster has fired the starting pistol in the race to elect Northern Ireland's next Assembly.
With five weeks to go before polling day on May 5, the DUP leader was first out of the blocks yesterday to officially nominate herself as a candidate.
With the Assembly dissolved as of yesterday, most of the elected Members collectively become former MLAs.
While ministers remain in position to run their departments, no Executive meetings are scheduled until after the vote.
Mrs Foster went to the electoral office in Omagh to submit her nomination papers accompanied by fellow Fermanagh/South Tyrone DUP candidate Lord Morrow.
She then travelled to Newtownabbey where party candidates in three constituencies - North Belfast, East Antrim and South Antrim - were handing in their official papers at the electoral office in Glengormley.
She was accompanied by deputy leader and North Belfast MP Nigel Dodds and East Antrim MP Sammy Wilson, neither of whom are among the runners.
The public will vote in the 108 Members of the Assembly when the polls open on May 5. There will be six MLAs returned in each of the 18 constituencies using the single transferable vote (STV) system, also used for council and European Parliament contests.
This system aims to reduce the so-called wasted votes seen in the UK Parliament's first-past-the-post system.
Under STV, instead of a majority, the winning post for candidates is a certain quota - the number of valid votes cast divided by the number of seats to be filled plus one vote, then adding one.