Sinn Fein have blamed the Electoral Office for the failure of a recall petition to unseat the DUP's Ian Paisley as North Antrim MP.
The party's North Antrim MLA Phillip McGuigan said that the Electoral Office did not open enough locations to enable people to sign the petition. He also blamed "the lack of an effective public awareness campaign and the restrictive opening hours of the signing centres."
However Chief Electoral Officer, Virginia McVea defended the process pointed out that it was the first ever recall petition to take place in the United Kingdom.
"Never before in Northern Ireland has there been postal vote on demand, no reason had to be given, and instead of one day for poll, we ran for six weeks and with two late nights on top," she said.
In the early hours of Thursday morning it was announced that the recall petition had failed.
In North Antrim 7,099 people signed the petition over the past six weeks - that was 9.4% of the electorate and 444 short of the required number. Fourteen of the papers lodged were deemed void or rejected for uncertainty.
Ten percent of the North Antrim electorate was required. That was 7,543 voters.
Mr Paisley did not attend the announcement. He was informed of the result by text message.
The petition of recall process opened after Mr Paisley was given a 30-sitting day ban from the Commons - the longest on record for any MP.
A parliamentary watchdog found in August that a year after receiving luxury holidays, Mr Paisley lobbied then prime minister David Cameron not to support a UN probe into alleged Sri Lankan human rights abuses.
As well as not declaring the holidays, the MP was found to have broke Commons lobbying rules.
Three centres were opened in North Antrim for the last six weeks to give voters the opportunity to sign the petition. Constituents were also able to put their name to the petition by post.
Chief Electoral Officer Virginia McVea declared the results on Thursday morning just after 1am.
Ms McVea communicated the outcome to Speaker John Bercow's office before announcing it at the electoral office's Belfast headquarters.
"The petition has not been successful," she said.
In a statement to the Press Association, Mr Paisley said the “electorate had spoken”.
“In July I apologised for a mistake made almost six years ago.”
“The electorate was asked to pass judgment. 90.6% have accepted my apology.
“The electorate has clearly spoken.
“I would like to thank my true friends, family, the electorate who have stood by me with unwavering support. Hallelujah.”
Reacting North Antrim MLA Philip McGuigan said the result was disappointing and challenged the DUP leadership to clarify the party's position on Mr Paisley's conduct.
“The result should also not be taken as an endorsement of Ian Paisley’s actions but rather as an indictment on the Electoral Office who did not do enough to facilitate the people of North Antrim who wished to sign the petition.
"Ian Paisley’s party leadership have yet to condemn his actions or to confirm whether or not he still has their support as MP for North Antrim.
“That is a failure of leadership. They need to come out of their hiding place and address the very serious issues at the heart of this scandal.”
Ulster Unionist Party Leader, Robin Swann MLA said public confidence in politics had collapsed.
"I respect that outcome," he said.
"However I would caution Ian Paisley not to see this as some sort of victory or endorsement of his actions in acting as a paid advocate for a foreign government and bringing North Antrim and the House of Commons into disrepute.
“Rather I would urge him to use the time that he has been suspended from Parliament and the DUP, to reflect on the severity of what he has done and the embarrassment he has brought on Northern Ireland.
"He should demonstrate some humility."
Mid and East Antrim SDLP Councillor Declan O’Loan said that many people declined to sign the petition because they believed Mr Paisley would win any by-election.
‘It would have been a better outcome for democracy and political progress here if the outcome had been different," he said.
"The weak support from unionist parties for the petition is further evidence of our divisions - they felt that going against Paisley would ultimately rebound on them.
"Unfortunately we have to rely only on the sanction imposed by the House of Commons to demonstrate that Ian Paisley’s conduct was unacceptable."
In the Commons in July Mr Paisley it was with “profound personal regret and deep personal embarrassment” that he had to make a statement over the report's findings.
But he denied he had any “ulterior motive for that genuine mistake” in 2013, adding that he accepted his “total failure” and offered another unreserved apology “without qualification”.