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Ulster Unionist Party to form first official Northern Ireland Assembly opposition

Mike Nesbitt told the Assembly chamber: 'Let battle commence'

Published 12/05/2016

First Minister Arlene Foster (DUP) with party colleague Lord Maurice Morrow celebrate their victory in Fermanagh South Tyrone as part of The Northern Ireland Assembly Election 2016 at Omagh Leisure Centre.
First Minister Arlene Foster (DUP) with party colleague Lord Maurice Morrow celebrate their victory in Fermanagh South Tyrone as part of The Northern Ireland Assembly Election 2016 at Omagh Leisure Centre.
First Minister Arlene Foster at the election count in Omagh. Picture by John McVitty / Press Eye
Catherine Seeley (left) and John O'Dowd (right) of Sinn Fein celebrate their re-election as counting of votes continues at Banbridge Leisure centre for Upper Bann constituency in the Northern Ireland Assembly Elections. : Niall Carson/PA Wire
Catherine Seeley and John O'Dowd of Sinn Fein celebrate their re-election as counting of votes continues at Banbridge Leisure centre for Upper Bann constituency in the Northern Ireland Assembly Elections. Niall Carson/PA Wire
Sinn Fein's John O'Dowd (left) waits as the counting of votes continues for the Upper Bann constituency in the Northern Ireland Assembly Elections at Banbridge Leisure centre in County Down. Niall Carson/PA Wire
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 6th May 2016 - The assembly election count for Upper Bann continues into it's second day today in Bainbridge Leisure centre, with four seats left to be filled. Pictured: Sinn Fein candidate John O'Dowd pictured deep in thought at the second day of the count in Banbrigde. Picture by Philip Magowan / Press Eye.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 6th May 2016 - The assembly election count for Upper Bann continues into it's second day today in Bainbridge Leisure centre, with four seats left to be filled. Pictured: Ulster Unionist candidate Joanne Dobson has been elected after stage nine, and celebrates with friends, family, and party colleagues. Picture by Philip Magowan / Press Eye.
Richie McPhillips of the SDLP (second left) celebrates being elected in the constituency of Fermanagh & South Tyrone as counting continues at the Omagh count centre in the Northern Ireland Assembly Elections.Brian Lawless/PA Wire
Ulster Unionist Jo Anne Dobson celebrates election in Upper Bann with son Mark. Michael McHugh/PA Wire
Rosemary Barton of the UUP celebrates being elected in the constituency of Fermanagh & South Tyrone as counting continues at the Omagh count centre in the Northern Ireland Assembly Elections. Brian Lawless/PA Wire
Press Eye - Valley Leisure Centre - Count Centre - 7th May 2016 Photograph By Declan Roughan Stewart Dickson, Alliance, elected. The count continues for the second day at the Valley Leisure Centre for East Antrim.
DUP leader Arlene Foster MLA for Fermanagh and South Tyrone makes time for a quick cup of tea as counting continues at the Omagh count centre in the Northern Ireland Assembly Elections. Brian Lawless/PA Wire
Rosemary Barton (UUP) being congratulated by Tom Elliott, MP during The Northern Ireland Assembly Election 2016 at Omagh Leisure Centre. picture by John McVitty / Press Eye
Daniel McCrossan (SDLP) elected West Tyrone as part of The Northern Ireland Assembly Election 2016 at Omagh Leisure Centre. picture by John McVitty / Press Eye
Press Eye - Valley Leisure Centre - Count Centre - 7th May 2016 Photograph By Declan Roughan Returning officer Janet Goodall announces Stewart Dickson, Alliance, elected. The count continues for the second day at the Valley Leisure Centre for East Antrim.
Press Eye - Valley Leisure Centre - Count Centre - 7th May 2016 Photograph By Declan Roughan The count continues for the second day at the Valley Leisure Centre for East Antrim.
Press Eye - Valley Leisure Centre - Count Centre - 7th May 2016 Photograph By Declan Roughan (L-R) Daragh Monaghan, Noel Williams, Sandra Dickson and Stewart Dickson. Stewart Dickson elected. The count continues for the second day at the Valley Leisure Centre for East Antrim.
First Minister Arlene Foster (DUP) arriving today Saturday for The Northern Ireland Assembly Election 2016 at Omagh Leisure Centre. picture by John McVitty / Press Eye
Daniel McCrossan (SDLP) elected West Tyrone as part of The Northern Ireland Assembly Election 2016 at Omagh Leisure Centre. picture by John McVitty / Press Eye
@Press Eye Ltd Northern Ireland- 6th May 2016 Mandatory Credit -Brian Little/Presseye DUP's Simon Hamilton, after being successful elected for Strangford at the Assembly Elections at the Aurora Leisure Centre, Bangor. Picture by Brian Little/Presseye
(left to right) Pundit Paul McFadden, SDLP Leader Colum Eastwood and People Before Profits Eamonn McCann share a joke at the Foyle Arena in Londonderry, as counting of votes continues in the the Foyle and East Londonderry constituencies in the Northern Ireland Assembly Elections. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday May 6, 2016. See PA story ULSTER Election. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire
Newly elected DUP MLA's for Belfast South, Emma Little Pengelly and Christopher Stalford celebrate their victory at the Titanic Exhibition Centre in the Northern Ireland Assembly Elections. Liam McBurney/PA Wire
Newly elected DUP MLA for Belfast South, Emma Little Pengelly speaks at the Titanic Exhibition Centre in the Northern Ireland Assembly Elections. Liam McBurney/PA Wire
Newly elected DUP MLA for Belfast South, Christopher Stalford speaks at the Titanic Exhibition Centre in the Northern Ireland Assembly Elections. Liam McBurney/PA Wire
Alliance Party's Paula Bradshaw celebrates after become the MLA for Belfast South at the Titanic Exhibition Centre in Belfast, during the Northern Ireland Assembly Elections. Liam McBurney/PA Wire
Newly elected MLA SDLP candidate for the Belfast West Claire Hanna, (centre) celebrates with supporters at the Titanic Exhibition Centre in the Northern Ireland Assembly Elections. Liam McBurney/PA Wire
Sinn Fein candidate for Belfast West Pat Sheehan speaks with media after being returned for another term during the Northern Ireland Assembly Elections at the Titanic Exhibition Centre in Belfast. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday May 6, 2016. See PA story ULSTER Election. Photo credit should read: Liam McBurney/PA Wire
Sinn Fein candidate Martin McGuinness is interviewed outside the Foyle Arena in Londonderry, as counting of votes continues in the the Foyle and East Londonderry constituencies in the Northern Ireland Assembly Elections. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday May 6, 2016. See PA story ULSTER Election. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire
Press Eye - Lagan Valley Count Centre - 6th May 2016 Photograph By Declan Roughan UUP's David Trimble(left) at the count. The count gets under way at Lisburn Leisure Plex count centre for Lagan Valley and South Down candidates.
Sinn Fein candidate Martin McGuinness is interviewed at the Foyle Arena in Londonderry, as counting of votes continues in the the Foyle and East Londonderry constituencies in the Northern Ireland Assembly Elections. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday May 6, 2016. See PA story ULSTER Election. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire
@Press Eye Ltd Northern Ireland- 6th May 2016 Mandatory Credit -Brian Little/Presseye Ulster Unionist Leader Mike Nesbitt success on the first count for Strangford for the Assembly Elections at the Aurora Leisure Centre, Bangor. Picture by Brian Little/Presseye
SDLP Leader Colum Eastwood at the Foyle Arena in Londonderry, as counting of votes continues in the the Foyle and East Londonderry constituencies in the Northern Ireland Assembly Elections. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday May 6, 2016. See PA story ULSTER Election. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire
Press Eye - Lagan Valley Count Centre - 6th May 2016 Photograph By Declan Roughan Trevor Lunn with Amanda Grehan. The count gets under way at Lisburn Leisure Plex count centre for Lagan Valley and South Down candidates.
Michelle Gildernew (Sinn Fein), who was elected in the Fermanagh South Tyrone count at Omagh Leisure Centre. picture by John McVitty / Press Eye
Press Eye - Lagan Valley Count Centre - 6th May 2016 Photograph By Declan Roughan Harold McKee, elected with Jim Wells. The count gets under way at Lisburn Leisure Plex count centre for Lagan Valley and South Down candidates.
PACEMAKER BELFAST 06/05/2016 Emma Little-Pengelly, DUP at Titanic exhibition Centre in Belfast. The process of counting votes in the Northern Ireland Assembly election has begun. Two hundred and seventy-six candidates are competing for 108 seats across Northern Ireland's 18 constituencies. Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker
Sinn Fein candidate Martin McGuinness is interviewed outside the Foyle Arena in Londonderry, as counting of votes continues in the the Foyle and East Londonderry constituencies in the Northern Ireland Assembly Elections. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday May 6, 2016. See PA story ULSTER Election. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire
PACEMAKER BELFAST 06/05/2016 Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams with party colleagues at Titanic exhibition Centre in Belfast. The process of counting votes in the Northern Ireland Assembly election has begun. Two hundred and seventy-six candidates are competing for 108 seats across Northern Ireland's 18 constituencies. Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker
A party activists wears a DUP rosette at the Foyle Arena in Londonderry, as counting of votes continues in the the Foyle and East Londonderry constituencies in the Northern Ireland Assembly Elections. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday May 6, 2016. See PA story ULSTER Election. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire
PACEMAKER BELFAST 06/05/2016 Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams with party colleagues at Titanic exhibition Centre in Belfast. The process of counting votes in the Northern Ireland Assembly election has begun. Two hundred and seventy-six candidates are competing for 108 seats across Northern Ireland's 18 constituencies. Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker
Gerry Carroll, People Before Profit Alliance looks at his portrait after being elected in West Belfast at Titanic exhibition Centre in Belfast. Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker
Arlene Foster, relaxing after being elected in Fermanagh and South Tyrone. picture by John McVitty, Enniskillen, Co.Fermanagh / Press Eye
Gary Middleton of the DUP is kissed by his wife Julie after election in Foyle, as counting of votes continues in the the Foyle and East Londonderry constituencies in the Northern Ireland Assembly Elections. PA
Alliance Party's candidate for east Belfast Naomi Long is congratulated after it is announced she has made the quota. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye
Emma Little-Pengelly, DUP at Titanic exhibition Centre in Belfast. The process of counting votes in the Northern Ireland Assembly election has begun. Two hundred and seventy-six candidates are competing for 108 seats across Northern Ireland's 18 constituencies. Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 6th May 2016 - The assembly election count for Newry and Armagh takes place in Banbridge Leisure Centre. Pictured: DUP Upper Bann Candidate Sydney Anderson is elected into the Assembly after the second count. Picture by Philip Magowan / Press Eye.
Alastair Patterson (UUP) at the Election Count at Omagh Leisure Centre. Picture by John McVitty / Press Eye
George Robinson of the DUP (centre blue suit) is elected an MLA for East Londonderry as counting of votes continues at the Foyle Arena in Londonderry in the the Foyle and East Londonderry constituencies in the Northern Ireland Assembly Elections. PA
Sinn Fein candidate Martin McGuinness arrives at the Foyle Arena in Londonderry, as counting of votes continues in the the Foyle and East Londonderry constituencies in the Northern Ireland Assembly Elections. PA
The assembly election count for Newry and Armagh takes place in Banbridge Leisure Centre. Pictured: DUP Upper Bann candidate Carla Lockhart topped the poll on the first count with a total of 7993 votes. Picture by Philip Magowan / Press Eye.
Martin McGuinness arrives the Foyle Count in the Foyle Arena in Derry. Picture Martin McKeown. Inpresspics.com.
Alex Easton, DUP after being successful on the first count for North Down for the Assembly Elections at the Aurora Leisure Centre, Bangor. Picture by Brian Little/Presseye
Vote counters distribute surplus votes during the Northern Ireland Assembly Elections count at the Titanic Exhibition Centre in Belfast. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday May 6, 2016. See PA story ULSTER Election. Photo credit should read: Liam McBurney/PA Wire
Mairtin O Muilleoir, Sinn Fein candidate for Belfast South, applauds the news that he has been elected as an MLA during the Northern Ireland Assembly Elections at the Titanic Exhibition Centre in Belfast, where the counting of votes continues in the Northern Ireland Assembly Elections. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday May 6, 2016. See PA story ULSTER Election. Photo credit should read: Liam McBurney/PA Wire
Maurice Bradley of the DUP (centre) celebrates his election as an MLA for East Londonderry, as the counting of votes continues at the Foyle Arena in Londonderry in the Foyle and East Londonderry constituencies in the Northern Ireland Assembly Elections. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday May 6, 2016. See PA story ULSTER Election. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire
PACEMAKER BELFAST 06/05/2016 DUP's Ian Paisley Jnr at the North Antrim count, held in Ballymena.
PACEMAKER BELFAST 06/05/2016 Sinn Fein's Daithi McKay at the Ballymena count.
DUP leader Arlene Foster (L) gives a victory sign alongside DUP chairman and fellow candidate Lord Morrow (R) after being elected at the Northern Ireland Assembly count at Omagh Leisure on May 6, 2016 in Omagh, Northern Ireland. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)
Mairtn î Muilleoir, Sinn Fein candidate for Belfast South, at the Titanic Exhibition Centre in Belfast, where the counting of votes continues in the Northern Ireland Assembly Elections. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday May 6, 2016. See PA story ULSTER Election. Photo credit should read: Liam McBurney/PA Wire
PACEMAKER PRESS 06/05/2016. 2016 Northern Ireland Assembly Election. Votes are counted at Omagh Leisure centre as Voters took to the polls across Northern Ireland. Pictured is DUP leader Arlene Foster with Lord Morrow. PICTURE MARK MARLOW/PACEMAKER PRESS
PACEMAKER BELFAST 06/05/2016 Gerry Carroll, People Before Profit Alliance is elected in West Belfast at Titanic exhibition Centre in Belfast. The process of counting votes in the Northern Ireland Assembly election has begun. Two hundred and seventy-six candidates are competing for 108 seats across Northern Ireland's 18 constituencies. Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker
OMAGH, NORTHERN IRELAND - MAY 06: DUP leader Arlene Foster jokes as she attempts to take a photograph of a party colleague after being elected at the Northern Ireland Assembly count at Omagh Leisure on May 6, 2016 in Omagh, Northern Ireland. Two hundred and seventy six candidates are contesting 108 seats across the province. The Democratic Unionist Party are predicted to return as the largest political party in the province with Arlene Foster also returned as First Minister of the power sharing government with Sinn Fein the second largest party. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)
OMAGH, NORTHERN IRELAND - MAY 06: DUP leader Arlene Foster (C) celebrates with party members after being elected at the Northern Ireland Assembly count at Omagh Leisure on May 6, 2016 in Omagh, Northern Ireland. Two hundred and seventy six candidates are contesting 108 seats across the province. The Democratic Unionist Party are predicted to return as the largest political party in the province with Arlene Foster also returned as First Minister of the power sharing government with Sinn Fein the second largest party. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 6th May 2016 Counting begins at the Titanic Convention centre in east Belfast for the North, East, South West constituencies in the 2016 Northern Ireland Assembly elections. People Before Profit Alliance candidate Gerry Carroll celebrates after it is announced he has made the quota to be elected an MLA. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye
Alex Maskey (centre) of Sinn Fein is congratulated by fellow candidate Pat Sheehan (left) and his brother Paul Maskey (right) after being elected as MLA for Belfast West, at the Titanic Exhibition Centre in Belfast, where the counting of votes continues in the Northern Ireland Assembly Elections. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday May 6, 2016. See PA story ULSTER Election. Photo credit should read: Liam McBurney/PA Wire
Counting begins at the Titanic Convention centre in east Belfast for the North, East, South West constituencies in the 2016 Northern Ireland Assembly elections. Sinn Fein candidate for south Belfast Máirtín Ó Muilleoir pictured at the count. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye
Pacemaker Press Belfast 06-05-2016: NI Assembly election: North Down & Strangford counts in Aurora Leisure Complex in Bangor. The process of counting votes in the Northern Ireland Assembly election has begun. The Alliance Party's David Ford looks over the numbers during the count. Picture By: Matthew Bohill Pacemaker.
NI Assembly Elections Foyle and East Londonderry count Dup candidate Gary Middleton. Photo: Lorcan Doherty / Presseye.com
The Alliance Party's David Ford looks over the numbers. Picture: Matt Bohill PACEMAKER BELFAST 06/05/2016
(L-R) Jane McCallister with her husband Independent John McCallister and SDLP's Margaret Ritchie. The count gets under way at Lisburn Leisure Plex count centre for Lagan Valley and South Down candidates. Press Eye - Lagan Valley Count Centre - 6th May 2016 Photograph By Declan Roughan
Pacemaker Press Belfast 06-05-2016: NI Assembly election: North Down & Strangford counts in Aurora Leisure Complex in Bangor. The process of counting votes in the Northern Ireland Assembly election has begun. Michelle McIlveen, DUP pictured after being elected, reaching the quota for election on the first count. Picture By: Arthur Allison.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 6th May 2016 Counting begins at the Titanic Convention centre in east Belfast for the North, East, South West constituencies in the 2016 Northern Ireland Assembly elections. People Before Profit Alliance candidate Gerry Carroll celebrates after it is announced he has made the quota to be elected an MLA. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye
Artist Brian John Spencer draws a caricature of DUP leader Arlene Foster, as he is watched by Guy Spence (left), DUP Deputy Lord Mayor of Belfast and Christopher Stalford, DUP councillor for Balmoral, at the Titanic Exhibition Centre in Belfast, where the counting of votes continues in the Northern Ireland Assembly Elections. Liam McBurney/PA Wire
Pacemaker Press Belfast 06-05-2016: NI Assembly election: North Down & Strangford counts in Aurora Leisure Complex in Bangor. The process of counting votes in the Northern Ireland Assembly election has begun. Michelle McIlveen, DUP pictured after being elected, reaching the quota for election on the first count. Picture By: Arthur Allison.
Pacemaker Press Belfast 06-05-2016: NI Assembly election: North Down & Strangford counts in Aurora Leisure Complex in Bangor. The process of counting votes in the Northern Ireland Assembly election has begun. UUP's Mike Nesbitt pictured after being elected, reaching the quota for election on the first count. Picture By: Arthur Allison.
Pacemaker Press Belfast 06-05-2016: NI Assembly election: North Down & Strangford counts in Aurora Leisure Complex in Bangor. The process of counting votes in the Northern Ireland Assembly election has begun. UUP's Mike Nesbitt pictured after being elected, reaching the quota for election on the first count. Picture By: Arthur Allison.
Pacemaker Press Belfast 06-05-2016: NI Assembly election: North Down & Strangford counts in Aurora Leisure Complex in Bangor. The process of counting votes in the Northern Ireland Assembly election has begun. UUP's Mike Nesbitt pictured after being elected, reaching the quota for election on the first count. Picture By: Arthur Allison.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 6th May 2016 Counting begins at the Titanic Convention centre in east Belfast for the North, East, South West constituencies in the 2016 Northern Ireland Assembly elections. DUP candidates for south Belfast Christopher Stalford and Emma Pengelly is congratulated after her quota is announced. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 6th May 2016 Counting begins at the Titanic Convention centre in east Belfast for the North, East, South West constituencies in the 2016 Northern Ireland Assembly elections. DUP candidate for south Belfast Emma Pengelly is congratulated after her quota is announced. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye
Counting begins at the Titanic Convention centre in east Belfast for the North, East, South West constituencies in the 2016 Northern Ireland Assembly elections. Alliance Party's candidate for east Belfast Naomi Long is congratulated after it is announced she has made the quota. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye
Counting begins at the Titanic Convention centre in east Belfast for the North, East, South West constituencies in the 2016 Northern Ireland Assembly elections. DUP candidate for east Belfast Joanne Bunting(centre) is congratulated after it is announced she has made the quota. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye
Counting begins at the Titanic Convention centre in east Belfast for the North, East, South West constituencies in the 2016 Northern Ireland Assembly elections. DUP candidate for east Belfast Joanne Bunting is congratulated after it is announced she has made the quota. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye
PACEMAKER BELFAST 06/05/2016 Sinn Fein's Linda Dillon, Michelle O'Neill and Ian Milne celebrate after being elected for Mid-Ulster, at the Ballymena count.
PACEMAKER BELFAST 06/05/2016 Paul Girvan of the DUP tops the polls in South Antrim. Picture Matt Bohill.
PACEMAKER PRESS 06/05/2016. 2016 Northern Ireland Assembly Election. Votes are counted at Omagh Leisure centre as Voters took to the polls across Northern Ireland. Pictured is DUP party leader Arlene Foster arriving at the count centre in Omagh. PICTURE MARK MARLOW/PACEMAKER PRESS
PACEMAKER PRESS 06/05/2016. 2016 Northern Ireland Assembly Election. Votes are counted at Omagh Leisure centre as Voters took to the polls across Northern Ireland. Pictured is DUP party leader Arlene Foster arriving at the count centre in Omagh. PICTURE MARK MARLOW/PACEMAKER PRESS
Counting begins at the Titanic Convention centre in east Belfast for the North, East, South West constituencies in the 2016 Northern Ireland Assembly elections. DUP candidate for south Belfast Emma Pengelly(second from left) pictured with party colleagues including MP for north Belfast Nigel Dodds(right). Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye
Nichola Mallon, SDLP candidate for Belfast North, at the Titanic Exhibition Centre in Belfast, where the counting of votes continues in the Northern Ireland Assembly Elections. Liam McBurney/PA Wire
Emma Little-Pengelly, DUP candidate for Belfast South, at the Titanic Exhibition Centre in Belfast, where the counting of votes continues in the Northern Ireland Assembly Elections.Liam McBurney/PA Wire
(left to right) Nelson McCausland, DUP candidate for Belfast North, Diane Dodds, DUP MEP, William Humphrey and Paula Bradley, DUP candidates for Belfast North, Nigel Dodds, DUP MP for North Belfast and Frank McCoubrey, DUP candidate for Belfast West, at the Titanic Exhibition Centre in Belfast, where the counting of votes continues in the Northern Ireland Assembly Elections. Liam McBurney/PA Wire
Bundes of ballot papers for Anna McCloskey, Independent Party candidate, Martin McGuinness and Meave McLaughlin, Sinn Fein candidates, as the counting of votes continues at the Foyle Arena in Londonderry in the Foyle and East Londonderry constituencies in the Northern Ireland Assembly Elections. Niall Carson/PA Wire
Counting of votes continues at the Foyle Arena in Londonderry in the Foyle and East Londonderry constituencies in the Northern Ireland Assembly Elections. Niall Carson/PA Wire
Bundles of ballot papers are placed beside each corresponding candidates name, at the Titanic Exhibition Centre in Belfast, where the counting of votes continues in the Northern Ireland Assembly Elections. Liam McBurney/PA Wire
People Before Profit Alliance candidates Gerry Carroll for Belfast West and Fiona Ferguson for Belfast North, chat at the Titanic Exhibition Centre in Belfast, where the counting of votes continues in the Northern Ireland Assembly Elections. Liam McBurney/PA Wire
Fra McCann, Sinn Fein candidate for Belfast West, at the Titanic Exhibition Centre in Belfast, where the counting of votes continues in the Northern Ireland Assembly Elections Liam McBurney/PA Wire
Jim Wells arrives at the Lesiure Plex in Lisburn and is refused entry because he does not have photographic ID with him. He is delayed for a short time before he is admitted to the centre. The count gets under way at Lisburn Leisure Plex count centre for Lagan Valley and South Down candidates. Press Eye - Lagan Valley Count Centre - 6th May 2016 Photograph By Declan Roughan
Jim Wells arrives at the Lesiure Plex in Lisburn and is refused entry because he does not have photographic ID with him. He is delayed for a short time before he is admitted to the centre. The count gets under way at Lisburn Leisure Plex count centre for Lagan Valley and South Down candidates. Press Eye - Lagan Valley Count Centre - 6th May 2016 Photograph By Declan Roughan
Jim Wells arrives at the Lesiure Plex in Lisburn and is refused entry because he does not have photographic ID with him. He is delayed for a short time before he is admitted to the centre. The count gets under way at Lisburn Leisure Plex count centre for Lagan Valley and South Down candidates. Press Eye - Lagan Valley Count Centre - 6th May 2016 Photograph By Declan Roughan
Counting begins at the Titanic Convention centre in east Belfast for the North, East, South West constituencies. Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 6th May 2016 Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye
PACEMAKER BELFAST 06/05/2016 Northern Ireland Assembly elections Counting underway at the Banbrige count centre
A count supervisor sorts voting papers at the Titanic Exhibition Centre, Belfast, after elections to decide the make-up of the next Stormont Assembly. Liam McBurney/PA Wire
A volunteer counts ballot papers at the counting centre at the Titanic Exhibition Centre, Belfast, after elections to decide the make-up of the next Stormont Assembly. Liam McBurney/PA Wire
Volunteers empty a ballot box in the counting centre at the Titanic Exhibition Centre, Belfast, after elections to decide the make-up of the next Stormont Assembly. Liam McBurney/PA Wire
PACEMAKER BELFAST 06/05/2016 Northern Ireland Assembly elections Counting underway at the Banbrige count centre
PACEMAKER BELFAST 06/05/2016 Northern Ireland Assembly elections Counting underway at the Banbrige count centre
PACEMAKER BELFAST 06/05/2016 Northern Ireland Assembly elections Counting underway at the Banbrige count centre
PACEMAKER BELFAST 06/05/2016 Northern Ireland Assembly elections Counting underway at the Banbrige count centre
PACEMAKER BELFAST 06/05/2016 Northern Ireland Assembly elections Counting underway at the Banbrige count centre
PACEMAKER BELFAST 06/05/2016 Ballot boxes for the Foyle Constituency in the Northern Ireland Assembly election are opened at the count centre in the Foyle Arena.
Pacemaker Press Belfast 06-05-2016: NI Assembly election: East & South Antrim count at Valley Leisure Centre Glengormley. The process of counting votes in the Northern Ireland Assembly election has begun. Two hundred and seventy-six candidates are competing for 108 seats across Northern Ireland's 18 constituencies. The votes first have to be verified - checking that the same number of papers are inside the ballot boxes as those given out by polling station staff. Picture By: Arthur Allison.
Pacemaker Press Belfast 06-05-2016: NI Assembly election: East & South Antrim count at Valley Leisure Centre Glengormley. The process of counting votes in the Northern Ireland Assembly election has begun. Two hundred and seventy-six candidates are competing for 108 seats across Northern Ireland's 18 constituencies. The votes first have to be verified - checking that the same number of papers are inside the ballot boxes as those given out by polling station staff. Picture By: Arthur Allison.
Pacemaker Press Belfast 06-05-2016: NI Assembly election: East & South Antrim count at Valley Leisure Centre Glengormley. The process of counting votes in the Northern Ireland Assembly election has begun. Two hundred and seventy-six candidates are competing for 108 seats across Northern Ireland's 18 constituencies. The votes first have to be verified - checking that the same number of papers are inside the ballot boxes as those given out by polling station staff. Picture By: Arthur Allison.
Pacemaker Press Belfast 06-05-2016: NI Assembly election: East & South Antrim count at Valley Leisure Centre Glengormley. The process of counting votes in the Northern Ireland Assembly election has begun. Two hundred and seventy-six candidates are competing for 108 seats across Northern Ireland's 18 constituencies. The votes first have to be verified - checking that the same number of papers are inside the ballot boxes as those given out by polling station staff. Picture By: Arthur Allison.
Pacemaker Press Belfast 06-05-2016: NI Assembly election: East & South Antrim count at Vally Leisure Centre Glengormley. The process of counting votes in the Northern Ireland Assembly election has begun. Two hundred and seventy-six candidates are competing for 108 seats across Northern Ireland's 18 constituencies. The votes first have to be verified - checking that the same number of papers are inside the ballot boxes as those given out by polling station staff. Picture By: Arthur Allison.
Counting begins at the Titanic Convention centre in east Belfast for the North, East, South West constituencies. Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 6th May 2016 Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye
Counting begins at the Titanic Convention centre in east Belfast for the North, East, South West constituencies. Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 6th May 2016 Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye
The count gets under way at Lisburn Leisure Plex count centre for Lagan Valley and South Down candidates.
The count gets under way at Lisburn Leisure Plex count centre for Lagan Valley and South Down candidates. Press Eye - Lagan Valley Count Centre - 6th May 2016 Photograph By Declan Roughan
The count gets under way at Lisburn Leisure Plex count centre for Lagan Valley and South Down candidates. Press Eye - Lagan Valley Count Centre - 6th May 2016 Photograph By Declan Roughan
The count gets under way at Lisburn Leisure Plex count centre for Lagan Valley and South Down candidates. Press Eye - Lagan Valley Count Centre - 6th May 2016 Photograph By Declan Roughan
Pacemaker Press Belfast 05-05-2016: NI Assembly election: Voters are heading to polls across Northern Ireland to cast their vote for the Assembly elections. Alliance Party leader David Ford pictured at Second Donegore Presbyterian Church, polling station in Co. Antrim after casting his vote. Picture By: Arthur Allison.
Sinn Fein supporters holding sample ballot sheets, showing people how to vote, camped outside St Teresa's Polling Station in West Belfast
Sinn Fein supporters holding sample ballot sheets, showing people how to vote, outside St Teresa's Polling Station in West Belfast
Pacemaker press 05/05/2016 UUP Leader Mike Nesbitt arrives with his wife Lynda at Gilnahirk Primary School to make his vote on Polling day. Picture Mark Marlow/pacemaker press
Pacemaker press 05/05/2016 UUP Leader Mike Nesbitt with his wife Lynda at Gilnahirk Primary School to make his vote on Polling day. Picture Mark Marlow/pacemaker press
DUP Leader, Arlene Foster, arriving with councillor Paul Robinson and friend Rhona McMahon at Brookeborough Controlled Primary School to cast her vote in today's Assembly Election.
DUP Leader, Arlene Foster, speaks to a local resident after arriving at Brookeborough Controlled Primary School to cast her vote in today's Assembly Election.
Voters take to the polls across Northern Ireland as voting begins in the 2016 Northern Ireland Assembly Election. Voters cast their vote in polling stations around Belfast. Pictured are canvassers outside Welcome evangelical church in the Woodvale area of West Belfast. picture Mark Marlow/pacemaker press
Pacemaker press 05/05/2016 Voters take to the polls across Northern Ireland as voting begins in the 2016 Northern Ireland Assembly Election. Voters cast their vote at Holy Trinity Primary School n West Belfast. Pictured is West Belfast's Sinn Fein number 1 candidate Pat Sheehan with a young one direction fan. Picture Mark Marlow/pacemaker press
Pacemaker press 05/05/2016 Voters take to the polls across Northern Ireland as voting begins in the 2016 Northern Ireland Assembly Election. Voters cast their vote in polling stations around Belfast. picture Mark Marlow/pacemaker press
Pacemaker press 05/05/2016 Voters take to the polls across Northern Ireland as voting begins in the 2016 Northern Ireland Assembly Election. Voters cast their vote in polling stations around Belfast. Pictured are canvassers outside Welcome evangelical church in the Woodvale area of West Belfast. picture Mark Marlow/pacemaker press
Pacemaker press 05/05/2016 Voters take to the polls across Northern Ireland as voting begins in the 2016 Northern Ireland Assembly Election. Voters cast their vote in polling stations around Belfast. Pictured is DUP cllr Brian Kingston [left] outside Edenbrooke ps. picture Mark Marlow/pacemaker press
Pacemaker press 05/05/2016 Voters take to the polls across Northern Ireland as voting begins in the 2016 Northern Ireland Assembly Election. Voters cast their vote in polling stations around Belfast. picture Mark Marlow/pacemaker press
SDLP leader Colum Eastwood and his wife Rachel with baby Rosa arrive to cast their vote at the Model Primary School in Derry on Thursday morning for the NI Local Assembly Elections. Picture Margaret McLaughlin © please by-line 5-5-16
Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness and fellow candidates Maeve McLaughlin and Raymond McCartney arrive to cast their vote at the Model Primary School in Derry on Thursday morning for the NI Local Assembly Elections. Supported by Mitchel McLaughlin and Martina Anderson MEP. Picture Margaret McLaughlin © please by-line 5-5-16
SDLP leader Colum Eastwood's wife Rachel with baby Rosa arrive to cast their vote at the Model Primary School in Derry on Thursday morning for the NI Local Assembly Elections. With Mark Durkan MP and former SDLP leader. Picture Margaret McLaughlin © please by-line 5-5-16
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 5th May 2016 Voters take to the polls across Northern Ireland as voting begins in the 2016 Northern Ireland Assembly Election. Voters cast their vote at St. Teresa's Primary School Polling Station in west Belfast. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye
Election candidates Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness, Raymond McCartney and Maeve McLaughlin after casting their vote at the Model Primary School in Derry on Thursday morning for the NI Local Assembly Elections. Picture Margaret McLaughlin © please by-line 5-5-16

The Ulster Unionist Party is to form the first official Opposition within the Northern Ireland Assembly.

Party Leader, Mike Nesbitt MLA, announced the decision to the Assembly as it sat for the first time since the elections on May 5 where they returned 16 MLAs.

It came moments after DUP leader Arlene Foster and Sinn Fein veteran Martin McGuinness were re-appointed First and Deputy First Minister respectivelly.

Mr Nesbitt said the party would take up the recently established option of entering formal opposition to the coalition executive.

While smaller parties and independents have sat outside the mandatory coalition government in past mandates, they have not been afforded the recognition, funding and key Assembly positions of an official opposition.

A new law now enable parties with the electoral strength to enter the executive to instead form an opposition.

Read more:

Northern Ireland election 2016: Who are all the 108 Assembly members elected?  

Mr Nesbitt said in a statement: “We asked for a mandate to enter the talks on the next Programme for Government, promising that if either of our two tests were not met, we would form an Official Opposition.

“Those tests were whether it was a progressive Programme and secondly, whether we sensed a will from the DUP and Sinn Fein to lead collective delivery.

Stormont's 108 MLAs
Stormont's 108 MLAs
Belfast East
Belfast East: Andy Allen UUP
Belfast East: Joanne Bunting, DUP
Belfast East: Sammy Douglas, DUP
Belfast East: Naomi Long, Alliance
Belfast East: Chris Lyttle, Alliance
Belfast East: Robin Newton, DUP
Belfast North
Belfast North: Paula Bradley, DUP
Belfast North: Gerry Kelly, Sinn Fein
Belfast North: William Humphrey, DUP
Belfast North: Nichola Mallon, SDLP
Belfast North: Nelson McCausland, DUP
Belfast North: Caral Ni Chuilin, Sinn Fein
Belfast South
Belfast South: Clare Bailey, Green Party
Belfast South: Paula Bradshaw, Alliance
Belfast South: Claire Hanna, SDLP
Belfast South: Emma Little Pengelly, DUP
Belfast South: Mairtin O Muilleoir, Sinn Fein
Belfast South: Christopher Stalford, DUP
Belfast West
Belfast West: Alex Attwood, SDLP
Belfast West: Gerry Carroll, People Before Profit
Belfast West: Alex Maskey, Sinn Fein
Belfast West: Fra McCann, Sinn Fein
Belfast West: Jennifer McCann, Sinn Fein
Belfast West: Pat Sheehan, Sinn Fein
East Antrim
East Antrim: Roy Beggs, UUP
East Antrim: Stewart Clyde Dickson, Alliance
East Antrim: David Hilditch, DUP
East Antrim: Noel Jordan, DUP
East Antrim: Oliver McMullan, Sinn Fein
East Antrim: Alastair Ross, DUP
East Londonderry
East Londonderry: Caomihe Archibald, Sinn Fein
East Londonderry: Maurice Bradley, DUP
East Londonderry: Adrian McQuillan, DUP
East Londonderry: Gerry Mullan, SDLP
East Londonderry: George Robinson, DUP
East Londonderry: Claire Sugden, Independent
Fermanagh and South Tyrone
Fermanagh and South Tyrone: Rosemary Barton, UUP
Fermanagh and South Tyrone: Arlene Foster, DUP
Fermanagh and South Tyrone: Michelle Gildernew, Sinn Fein
Fermanagh and South Tyrone: Sean Lynch, Sinn Fein
Fermanagh and South Tyrone: Richie McPhillips, SDLP
Fermanagh and South Tyrone: Maurice Morrow, DUP
Foyle
Foyle: Mark H Durkan, SDLP
Foyle: Colum Eastwood, SDLP
Foyle: Eamonn McCann, People Before Profit
Foyle: Raymond McCartney, Sinn Fein
Foyle: Martin McGuinness, Sinn Fein
Foyle: Gary Middleton, DUP
Lagan Valley
Lagan Valley: Robbie Butler, UUP
Lagan Valley: Paul Given, DUP
Lagan Valley: Brenda Hale, DUP
Lagan Valley: Trevor Lunn, Alliance
Lagan Valley: Jenny Palmer, Ulster Unionist Party
Lagan Valley: Edwin Poots, DUP
Mid Ulster
Mid Ulster: Keith Alexander Buchanan, DUP
Mid Ulster: Linda Dillon, Sinn Fein
Mid Ulster: Patsy McGlone, SDLP
Mid Ulster: Ian Milne, Sinn Fein
Mid Ulster: Michelle O'Neill, Sinn Fein
Mid Ulster: Sandra Overend, UUP
Newry and Armagh
Newry and Armagh: Cathal Damian Boylan, Sinn Fein
Newry and Armagh: Megan Fearon, Sinn Fein
Newry and Armagh: William George Irwin, DUP
Newry and Armagh: Danny Kennedy, UUP
Newry and Armagh: Justin McNulty, SDLP
Newry and Armagh: Conor Murphy, Sinn Fein
North Antrim
North Antrim: Jim Allister, TUV
North Antrim: Paul Frew, DUP
North Antrim: Philip Logan, DUP
North Antrim: Daithi Gerard McKay, Sinn Fein
North Antrim: Mervyn Storey, DUP
North Antrim: Robin Swann, UUP
North Down
North Down: Steven Agnew, Green Party
North Down: Alan Chambers, UUP
North Down: Gordon Mervyn Dunne, DUP
North Down: Alex Easton, DUP
North Down: Stephen Farry, Alliance
North Down: Peter James Weir, DUP
South Antrim
South Antrim: Steve Aiken, UUP
South Antrim: Pam Cameron, DUP
South Antrim: Trevor Clarke, DUP
South Antrim: David RJ Ford, Alliance
South Antrim: Paul Girvan, DUP
South Antrim: Declan Kearney, Sinn Fein
South Down
South Down: Sinead Bradley, SDLP
South Down: Chris Hazzard, Sinn Fein
South Down: Colin McGrath, SDLP
South Down: Harold McKee, UUP
South Down: Caitriona Ruane, Sinn Fein
South Down: Jim Wells, DUP
Strangford
Strangford: Kellie Armstrong, Alliance
Strangford: Jonathan Bell, DUP
Strangford: Simon Hamilton, DUP
Strangford: Michelle McIlveen, DUP
Strangford: Mike Nesbitt, UUP
Strangford: Philip Smith, UUP
Upper Bann
Upper Bann: Sydney Alexander Anderson, DUP
Upper Bann: Doug Beattie, UUP
Upper Bann: Jo-Anne Dobson, UUP
Carla Lockhart DUP
Upper Bann: John O'Dowd, Sinn Fein
Upper Bann: Catherine Seeley, Sinn Fein
West Tyrone
West Tyrone: Michaela Boyle, Sinn Fein
West Tyrone: Thomas Buchanan, DUP
West Tyrone: Ross Hussey, UUP
West Tyrone: Declan McAleer, Sinn Fein
West Tyrone: Daniel McCrossan, SDLP
West Tyrone: Barry McElduff, Sinn Fein

“On Tuesday, it became clear the Programme for Government will not be finalised until the end of the year, seven months away. On that basis, our primary test of whether it is a progressive Programme for Government, has failed.

“Our second test was whether we sensed a will to collectively deliver the Programme and that has also failed, as it is clear the DUP and Sinn Fein will retain joint ownership of the Programme for Government.

“Given the evidence that little is about to change, and we face another five years of DUP / Sinn Féin carve up and mutual veto, we are convinced the right thing to do for the country is to forego our entitlements in government and establish an Official Opposition, to both scrutinise the work of the next Executive and offer the electorate something different next time around.

“The decision to go into Opposition was taken unanimously by the Ulster Unionist Assembly Group earlier today.

“This heralds a new era for devolved politics at Stormont, and a big, bold step forward to normal democracy for Northern Ireland.”

Online Editors

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From Belfast Telegraph