Northern Ireland Assembly election count

Follow all the latest news and reaction as the counting continues across Northern Ireland

Rachel Flaherty, Damian Cullen, Dan Griffin and Michael Barry Sat, Mar 4
LIVE: Northern Ireland Assembly election count

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  • 08:16
    Counting is under way in the Northern Ireland Assembly election.
  • 08:16
    An online exit poll conducted in the North yesterday indicates that the DUP could be down from 30 per cent to 25 – 26 per cent.

    Bill White, managing director of polling company Lucid Talk, told Morning Ireland that it appeared that one in ten people who voted for the DUP in last May’s election, voted for a different party yesterday.
  • 08:20
    The turnout in the  Stormont  elections was described as “steady” on Thursday night as voters decided the format of the next slimmed-down  Northern Assembly, writes Gerry Moriarty.
  • 08:25
  • 08:29
  • 09:04
    Count staff in eight centres began the process of verifying used ballot papers at 8am.
  • 09:06
    The first results are due early in the afternoon, with some of the 18 constituency counts set to extend into Saturday. A total of 228 candidates are vying for the 90 seats in Stormont’s slimmed-down devolved legislature.
  • 09:36
  • 10:26
  • 10:32

    Here's the turnout in recent Northern Ireland elections:
    Assembly Election 2017: 62%
    EU Referendum 2016: 63%
    Assembly Election 2016: 55%
    General Election 2015: 58%
    Assembly Election 2011: 56%
    General Election 2010: 58%

  • 11:30

    Early tallies from eight counting centres across Northern Ireland this morning suggest that from North Down & Strangford in the east to Fermanagh in the west voting turnout has been higher compared to last May's  Assembly elections.

  • 11:30
  • 11:32

    There were some memorable quotes during the election, probably none more so than this from Arlene Foster. . .  

    “If you feed a crocodile it will keep coming back for more.” — the DUP leader on resisting Sinn Fein demands for an Irish Language Act.

    “See you later alligator.” — Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams’ response.

  • 11:34

    There were other campaign quotes that also stood out.

    This from Mike Nesbitt. . .  

    “I will be transferring from my Ulster Unionist votes to the SDLP.” — the Ulster Unionist leader pledging to support a nationalist candidate with his second preference vote.

    “We are not going to try and convince people to vote beyond us.” — SDLP leader Colum Eastwood declining to reciprocate Mr Nesbitt’s pledge.

     “I confirm that I will be advising my supporters to give their second preference vote to the only other unionist candidate standing in the constituency.” UUP veteran Danny Kennedy, one of many party colleagues who refused to follow their leader’s lead.

  • 11:37

    Naomi Long contribution to quotes we remember . . .  

    “The lothario of Northern Ireland politics.” — the Alliance leader claiming the UUP had a long history of courting other parties.

    “If you vote for Mike, you will get Michelle, that’s the reality.” Mrs Foster claiming the UUP strategy would only benefit Sinn Fein northern leader Michelle O’Neill.

    “People voted for you the last time and they got Martin McGuinness, and he wrote your resignation letter.” Mr Nesbitt’s comeback, noting how Mr McGuinness’s resignation forced Mrs Foster from her job as first minister.

  • 11:48

    Few more quotes. . .

    It'll be interesting to see if Steven Agnew's comment stands up today and tomorrow.

    “We are the only party not expected to lose seats in this election.” Green Party leader Agnew.

    “I am thinking Moy Park would be a good example.” People Before Profit leader Eamonn McCann identifying the major poultry producer as one of the companies his party would like to nationalise.

    “What about a wee bit of respect, Michelle?” Arlene Foster chiding Mrs O’Neill for interrupting her during a televised leaders’ debate.

    “What about some respect for the public, Arlene.” Mrs O’Neill’s retort.

  • 11:49
  • 11:53
  • 11:55

    Last bunch of campaign quotes that are worth revisiting . . .


    “Everybody has a right to remember their dead no matter who you are or what your political perspective is.” Mrs O’Neill addressing a controversy around her attendance at a commemoration for four IRA men.

    “We were delighted we were able to raise that amount of money.” DUP MP Sir Jeffrey Donaldson after revealing that a little-known business group called the Constitutional Research Council bankrolled the party’s £425,000 pro-Brexit campaign in the EU referendum.

    “I’ve man flu.” Mrs Foster at the DUP manifesto launch, where she cited ill health as the reason for not fielding media questions.

    “There can be no return to the status quo.” Mrs O’Neill’s oft-repeated warning that change is needed before Sinn Fein returns to Stormont Castle.

    “I wouldn’t care what sort of situation I face as long as I’m out of Europe.” DUP man Nelson McCausland in a debate on the potential impact of Brexit on Northern Ireland.

    “Devolution belongs to the people — it should not be removed because some parties are not capable of the challenge and the compromise of being in government.” Colum Eastwood, making the case for a clear out at Stormont Castle.

    “Drain the swamp.” Traditional Unionist Voice (TUV) leader Jim Allister borrowing a Donald Trump phrase to call for a major Stormont shake-up.
  • 11:57

    Turnout in Foyle was 65 per cent, up 9 percentage points from the last
    Assembly elections 10 months ago. In East Derry the increase is even greater — from 51 per cent in 2016 to 63 per cent this time around.

  • 12:14

    The Press Association reports that a number of individual constituencies have recorded an increase in turnout in excess of 10 per cent.

    The turnout is on course to be significantly higher than the 54.91 per cent of 2016 — a demonstration of the level of public interest in the campaign. Soaring viewing figures for the two main TV leaders’ debates had hinted at a surge in voter engagement, something that appears to have been borne out on polling day.

  • 12:18

    West Tyrone turnout: 69.89 per cent

    Eligible electorate: 64258

    Total votes polled: 44907


    Fermanagh and South Tyrone turnout: 72.61 per cent

    Eligible electorate: 73100

    Total votes polled: 53075
  • 12:23
  • 12:27
    From Amanda Ferguson in Belfast:  

    The Titanic Exhibition Centre is the count centre for the four Belfast constituencies.  

    Sinn Féin sources tell The Irish Times they are confident about retaining its four seats in Belfast West.

    The party believes it is between People Before Profit and the SDLP for the final seat, with the SDLP's Alex Attwood to be at most risk.

    Most commentators have agreed with that analysis in the build up to the election.

    In Belfast South last May the result was two DUP and one each for Sinn Féin, SDLP, Alliance and the Greens.

    The DUP's Christopher Stalford says unionist turnout in the working class, loyalist parts of his constituency is up but he believes overall there was possibly a bigger increase in non-unionist areas.

    "How that plays out in the final result we'll soon know," he said.

    On suggestions the DUP is at most risk of losing out this year with only five seats in play he said to get two out of six last time was a "tremendous achievement" and that a reduction in seats made it hard to defend but that he and and Emma Little-Pengelly "are both in the hunt".

    "I am hopeful that ultimately we will both get elected," he added.

  • 13:12
  • 13:13
  • 13:19
    The number taking to the ballot boxes swelled to 64.78 per cent, 10 per cent higher than last year’s Stormont poll. A total of 812,783 votes were cast.
  • 13:44

    Amanda Ferguson writes: A big cheer goes up in the Belfast count centre among the Sinn Féin delegation as Orlaithi Flynn has topped the poll in Belfast West.

    Last year People Before Profit's Gerry Carroll topped the poll.

    This year it has two candidates in the race - Carroll and Michael Collins.

  • 13:46

    In Belfast West, Orlaithi Flynn has reached the quota and is deemed elected. She takes the first seat in Belfast West. Michael Collins from PBP is out of the race along with four other candidates.

  • 14:08

    Assembly members elected so far listed by constituency

    Mairtin O Muilleoir — SF

    Orlaithi Flynn — SF

    Alan Chambers — UUP
    Alex Easton — DUP
    Stephen Farry — Alliance

  • 14:18
  • 14:18
    Amanda Ferguson writes: Elisha McCallion has topped the poll for Sinn Féin in Foyle
  • 14:22

    Elisha McCallion has been elected in Foyle for Sinn Féin
  • 14:25
    Elisha polled 9,205 first preference votes - substantially over the quota of 7,437.

    A popular former mayor of Derry, party supporters cheered and clapped and sang "see you later, alligator" as the announcement was made.

    Speaking afterwards, Elisha McCallion said the result demonstrated the public's support for the former deputy first minister Martin McGuinness's decision to resign from the Assembly and trigger the election.

    "What we heard very clearly on the doorsteps was that people understood why he made the decision he did, and that it was the right one.

    "I dedicated my campaign to Martin, and he was with us every step of the way.

    "In this town he is a giant, a legend, a hero.

    "People are in no doubt that the decision he made was the right one, and that will be demonstrated by an increased vote for Sinn Féin throughout the North."
  • 14:26
  • 14:28
    Alliance Party leader Naomi Long tops the poll and is elected in Belfast East with 7,610 votes
  • 14:29
  • 14:31
  • 14:38

    Amanda Ferguson reports: PBP's Gerry Carroll is confident of retaining his Assembly seat in Belfast West, a constituency that voted to remain in the EU during last year's membership referendum.

    His running mate Michael Collins was eliminated at the first count.

    He says Sinn Féin put significant resources into its Belfast West campaign and misrepresenting the PBP position on Brexit.

    "Our position on the EU was misrepresented by Sinn Féin, putting us in a box with parties like the DUP and TUV and Ukip.

    "Our reasons for being opposed to the EU is this is an institution that has legitimised racism, creating a fortress around Europe and has left thousands of refugees dying at the bottom of the Mediterranean Sea.

    "This is an organisation that operates in the interests of corporations and lobbyists.

    "It is an organisation that has unleashed untold misery on people in Ireland and Greece with brutal austerity.

    "Anybody that believes the EU is a progressive, left-wing institution is living in a fantasy world.

    "There was a concerted effort in west Belfast to misrepresent our position on the EU and a lot of resources went into that - posters, leaflets and it suited them to do that.

    "It was about Sinn Féin also wanting people to ignore welfare reform and 20,000 job losses coming through, saying Brexit was going to be the worst thing in peoples' lives.

    "That had an impact on some people coming out to vote, but nevertheless we are looking good to keep a seat in west Belfast and our vote in other areas is up."


  • 14:39
    DUP communities minister Paul Givan has been elected on first count at Lagan Valley
  • 14:41

    Sinn Féin's leader in the North Michelle O'Neill and the DUP's Keith Buchanan have been elected in Mid-Ulster

  • 14:42

    Meanwhile, Sinn Féin's Cathal Boylan and the DUP's William Irwin have been elected in  Newry and Armagh

  • 14:46

    Sinn Féin's Caoimhe Archibald has topped the poll in East Derry, with 5,851 first preferences.

    The quota is set at 6,979.

    David Harding (Conservative) has been eliminated and his votes will now be redistributed.

  • 14:48
    Harry McGee reports:  

    Sinn Féin is topping the poll in many constituencies, including in Foyle. Some of its party analysts are predicting that it could win upwards of 28 seats. If it has a bad day, the DUP could slip to 30 or 29.  

    It is very early days and transfers will be decisive in deciding the last seat in each of the 18 constituencies.  

    But if that scenario works out you could end up with a situation where the DUP and Sinn Féin are within a seat of each other, or even.  

    There have already been a few high-profile casualties. It looks like Nelson McCausland might lose out in North Belfast and Eamonn McCann is in difficulty in Foyle.  


  • 14:51
  • 14:52
    Harry McGee reports:
    This is an election that was fought on a brand new issue (that of transparency and governance) but looks like producing an outcome that is old school - the two tribes polarising.
  • 14:53
  • 14:58
    The DUP's  David Hilditch has been elected on the third count in East Antrim
  • 15:02
  • 15:04

    Vivienne Clarke reports:  

    “The people have welcomed progress,” the DUP’s Simon Hamilton has stated, speaking on Radio Ulster from the Bangor count centre.

    “We want to continue to work on the issues of health and education and bringing jobs to Northern Ireland and we can do that best if we have a working Assembly and that’s what we will be working towards.”

    When asked if he would be interested in the role of leader of the DUP if Arlene Foster is not re-elected, he said:  “It’s not a post that I am seeking. I’ve enough to be dealing with. Arlene is a good leader.”

  • 15:06
  • 15:10

    Wee Jordy McKeag stood in Belfast East as an Independent but was not elected.

    He told The Irish Times he was very proud of his 84 votes and says his campaign was about sending a message to Stormont that it has failed the people.

    The 18-year-old trainee joiner from the Shankill area of the city stood as a protest vote over the DUP's handling of the controversial  RHI scheme, known as the "cash for ash" scandal, which precipitated the Assembly  election.

    The former Orange bandsman, whose election agent is Cormac MacDiarmada from The Notorious Barrick Boys online comedy group, had pledged to put his £48,000 salary on a 1000/1 accumulator and give any money he won on the horses to charity.

    He says he will be back to fight again in the council elections.

  • 15:11
    Long-standing SDLP Assembly member Alex Attwood has lost his seat in West Belfast after a strong performance from Sinn Féin.
  • 15:12
  • 15:13
  • 15:15
    Sinn Féin's Chris Hazzard and Sinead Ennis elected on first count in South Down
  • 15:17
    Thomas Buchanan (DUP), Michaela Boyle (SF) and Barry McElduff (SF) have been elected in West Tyrone
  • 15:22

    Freya McClements reports from the Foyle Arena:  

    With Sinn Féin's Elisha McCallion elected on the first count in Foyle and three other outgoing MLAs (Sinn Féin's Raymond McCartney and the SDLP's Colum Eastwood and Mark H Durkan) with 7,145, 7,240 and 6,948 first preferences respectively, it's looking likely that the next three seats will go to them.  

    That leaves a battle for the fifth and final seat between the DUP's Gary Middleton (with 5.975 first preferences) and People Before Profit's Eamonn McCann, on 4,760.    

    There's been speculation throughout this campaign that the move from six seats to five in this election would prove costly for McCann, and transfers will be key.  

    If McCann is to be elected, he'll need to make up that gap of more than 1,000 first preferences.  

    Could his support for a Leave vote on Brexit make the difference?  


    Equally, fewer candidates means Middleton's potential for transfers is more limited.  


    As always with elections, time will tell - but at the moment it really is too close to call.  

  • 15:27
    Assembly members elected so far listed by constituency
    David Hilditch — DUP
    Naomi Long — Alliance
    Mairtin O Muilleoir — SF
    Orlaithi Flynn — SF
    Alan Chambers — UUP
    Alex Easton — DUP
    Stephen Farry — Alliance
    Sinead Ennis — SF
    Chris Hazzard — SF
    Elisha McCallion — SF
    Paul Givan — DUP
    Cathal Boylan — SF
    William Irwin — DUP
    Michaela Boyle — SF
    Thomas Buchanan — DUP
    Barry McElduff — SF
    Keith Buchanan — DUP
    Michelle O’Neill — SF
  • 15:30

    Vivienne Clarke reports:

    Sinn Féin’s MLA representative Máirtín Ó Muilleoir, who topped the poll in the Belfast South constituency and increased his personal vote by 2,500, maintains the increase in the numbers of nationalist voters was because of the "arrogance and disrespect of the DUP".  

    He said that one of the boxes in the Finaghy ward had 76 per cent of votes in favour of him.

    “They came out because they were disgruntled, they’d had enough of the DUP.

    “I have never had an election where there were so many nationalist votes. There was an effort by the DUP to turn the clock back to 1969, they weren’t having that.

    “It hasn’t been a good day for unionism,” he told Radio Ulster.

    Mr Ó Muilleoir went on to pay tribute to Ales Atwood who lost his seat. “I’d like to thank him for a lifetime of service to the people of Belfast.”

  • 15:31
    Gordon Dunne (DUP) has been elected on the second count in Down North
  • 15:32

    Amanda Ferguson reports: More seats have been filled

     South Down

    Sinead Ennis SF

    Chris Hazzard SF


    West Tyrone

    Thomas Buchanan DUP

    Michaela Boyle SF

    Barry McElduff SF

  • 15:34
    Carla Lockhart (DUP) has been elected on the first count in Upper Bann
  • 15:35
  • 15:42

    Vivienne Clarke reports:  

    The DUP’s Paul Givan maintains that the RHI scandal was "the excuse, not the reason" for the Assembly elections.

    He said that Mike Nesbitt "played into the hands of Sinn Féin" on the issue and was now paying the price.

    Mr Givan, who was re-elected for the Lagan Valley constituency, told Radio Ulster that Sinn Féin will use the increased nationalist vote as evidence of support for their demands on the RHI and the Irish language.

    “They will have a greater wish list.”

    He said that the DUP will go into negotiations in good faith. “We will have to deal with the issues.”

    The constant message he heard on the doorsteps, he added, was that people want Stormont to work.

    “They (Sinn Féin) need to respect the mandate we have. No one party has the right to dictate the agenda.”

  • 15:47


  • 15:52
    DUP leader Arlene Foster has topped the poll in Fermanagh and South Tyrone but has failed to reach the quota
  • 15:54

    All first counts have been completed in #AE17

  • 15:56

    Freya McClements reports from the Foyle Arena in Derry:

    Derry - which makes up the majority of the Foyle constituency - has always been regarded as an SDLP stronghold.    

    If the solemn faces of the SDLP party faithful are anything to go by, today that stronghold is feeling a lot less secure.    

    Sinn Féin have outpolled the SDLP by more than 2,000 first preferences.  

    For the meantime, outgoing MLA Mark H Durkan is confident that both he and his party leader, Colum Eastwood, will be returned.  

    "We will hold the two SDLP seats in Foyle.

    "Yes, Sinn Féin got a bigger vote than us in this election, but I think we can attribute that to Arlene Foster.

    "Of course, we're always looking at how to get our vote out and how to encourage people who maybe haven't voted before to get out and vote.  

    "There are SDLP voters out there, so we'll have to look at getting that vote out further."

  • 15:59
  • 16:00
  • 16:06

  • 16:06
    Megan Fearon (SF) and Justin McNulty (SDLP) have been elected on the second count in Newry and Armagh
  • 16:07

  • 16:09
    Harry McGee reports:
    Looking at the figures for South Belfast, its going to be very tight indeed. Last seat could go down to the wire between one of the DUP candidates and Clare Bailey of the Greens..
    Will come down to the UUP's Michael Henderson's transfers. The Greens will be generally more transfer friendly but Bailey is still 3,000 short of the quota.
    There is less than 100 votes separating the two DUP candiates, Christopher Stalford and Emma Little Pengelly.
    Because they are so close both will struggle to get sufficient transfers to bring both over the line.
    So at this stage, Bailey looks like she is the slight favourite.
    Bailey's party colleague Stephen Agnew was comfortably reelected for the third time.
  • 16:11

    Sinn Féin's Raymond McCartney elected in Foyle on the second count  

  • 16:32

  • 16:34
    Harry McGee reports
    Another of my prediction goes south. In Newry Armagh I predicted that Sinn Fein would struggle to retain three seats. It looks like it will do that with Conor Murphy squeezing out the UUP's Danny Kennedy in a battle for the final seat.
    While the SDLP has not suffered to the same extent as the UUP, this result is one of many which shows that Sinn Féin has all but eclipsed it as the main nationalist/republican party in just about every constituency.
    SDLP strongholds like Foyle and South Down have been ceded to Sinn Féin.
    Kennedy was one of those who cavilled with UUP leader Mike Nesbitt's decision to ask party supporters to transfer to the SDLP.
    There will be questions asked about Nesbitt's own position in the wake of this result.
    All of this comes with a slight health warning. There will be some very close calls for the last seats.
    At this moment Sinn Fein has 14 seats, the DUP 8, Alliance has 3, and one each for the SDLP and UUP,
  • 16:54

    Latest update...

    Sinn Fein has come within touching distance of polling the most first preference votes in the Northern   Ireland Assembly election.
    The Democratic Unionists maintained the top spot, despite their vote share falling as the Sinn Fein share surged.

    The DUP notched 225,413 first preferences, down 1.1 percentage points on last year, to Sinn Fein’s 224,245 — an increase of 3.91 percentage points.
    In terms of the overall picture, the DUP secured 28.08 per cent   of first preferences to Sinn Fein’s 27.93 per cent.

     The final break-down of seats may not be as close, as results in the proportional representation contest rely on transfers from other parties, but the republicans were nevertheless buoyed by the result.
    Arriving at the Belfast count centre, Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams said: “It is a vote and mandate that will have to be respected by the two governments (UK and Irish), by all the other parties, for a step change, for an end to the old status quo, for a new beginning as to how we do our business here.” (PA)

  • 16:57

  • 17:06

  • 17:11

    With 27 seats filled out of 90 in the Northern Ireland election, the party seats are:

    SF                                  14

    DUP                                  8

    Alliance                        3

    SDLP                                1

    UUP                                  1

  • 17:16

  • 17:16

  • 17:19

    It doesn't look good for Eamonn McCann

  • 17:26

  • 17:29

    You'll remember this comment- "charisma of a tofu"


  • 17:37

    People Before Profit's Gerry Carroll has kept his seat


  • 17:46

  • 17:50

  • 17:58

    Nationalists in Northern Ireland have voted to oppose Brexit, Gerry Adams has said.

    With the prospect of a hard land border dividing the island of Ireland, the Sinn Fein president said the Stormont Assembly poll was a mandate for Northern Ireland to receive special designated status within the EU.
    Mr Adams said it was the only way to prevent a land frontier between a European state, the Republic of Ireland, and the British state in Northern Ireland.
    Sinn Fein is on course to become the largest party in nationalism in the next Assembly if the power-sharing institutions can be resurrected.
    Mr Adams said: “It is also a re-assertion of our position on Brexit, that this part of Ireland should have a special designated status.
    “Whatever your position is on the constitutional issue, that the only way to stop a land frontier between a European state and the British state on this island is to make sure there is a special designated status within the European Union for this part of Ireland.”
    Northern Ireland voted remain in the June EU poll by 56 per cent to 44 per cent.
    However, some largely unionist areas voted leave and the DUP, the largest party, campaigned for Brexit. (PA)

  • 17:58
    Harry McGee reports
    I think one of those moments that illustrate how Northern politics went back to basics was the fate of Jonathan Bell, the former DUP minister who blew the whistle on the cash for ash scandal.
    He stood as an Independent in Strangford and got nowhere.

  • 18:02

  • 18:08
    Harry McGee reports
    Alex Atwood has been an SDLP public representative since 1985 and an MLA since 1998 in West Belfast. He barely survived ten months ago but just could not repeat the Houdini act today.
    A resurgent Sinn Féin swept all around them in the constituency, knocking People Before Profits Gerry Carroll down to fifth and putting an end to Atwood's Assembly career.
    In the echoey cavernous Titanic Exhibition Centre, Atwood was philosophical about his defeat.
    He said that in a changing Northern Ireland the SDLP had an opportunity to ask voters to come back to the centre, to see devolution, to live up to ambition of the Good Friday Agreement.
    "That message was not heard and was crowded out by the louder messages coming from other places."
    In a memorable phrase he said of the electoin: "In big part it was about bogeymen and top dog.
    "The space of the centre and the space of devolution... it got heard because there was a move to the middle but it was not of a sufficient critical mass to change politics her, or change the complexion of politics."
    He said that accommodation should mean that people cross lines when it comes to voting and even Sinn Féin was accepting that now.
    "Once again the SDLP is setting out the stall. Really the primary issue is that two big parties have dug in. And in digging in they have put in jeopardy devloution itself."
  • 18:13

  • 18:15

  • 18:23
    Harry McGee reports
    In North Belfast, his colleague Nichola Mallon looks like she will retain her seat comfortably.
    She suggested the election came too early as SDLP had not really had a long time to establish itself as an opposition party.
    Like Atwood, she focused on the centre ground. "I think the dynamic of opposition is new to Assembly and was just finding its feet.
    "The starting pistol came earlier than any of us anticipated.
    "We were quite courageous. There is a choice. It does not have to be deadlock or division. There is a choice in the centre ground.
    "Once we have the mania of today over, we will see that many people chose that option."
  • 18:38



  • 18:42

    DUP and Sinn Fein on course to dominate Northern Ireland assembly


    Sinn Fein are neck and neck with the Democratic Unionists in the race to become the biggest force in the next Northern Ireland assembly, although the pro-union party is still expected to emerge marginally on top.
    With around a quarter of seats filled on Friday evening, the DUP were still slightly ahead of Sinn Fein with 28.08 per cent of the first preference vote compared to the republican party's increased share of 27.9 per cent.
    Sinn Fein however have more members elected to the regional parliament so far, although the DUP will pick up more seats overnight and on Saturday.
    This means that on Monday the DUP and Sinn Fein will once again lead the negotiations aimed at creating a new power-sharing government in Belfast. But the prospect of the parties reaching agreement in the three-week timeframe imposed by the secretary of state for Northern Ireland, James Brokenshire, appears remote.
    The biggest losers in the contest are the two main opposition parties in the last assembly - the Ulster Unionists and the nationalist Social Democratic and Labour party.
    The SDLP, the party born out of the Northern Ireland civil rights movement at the end of the 1960s, suffered their worst-ever result with an estimated 11 per cent share of the vote.
    The party's decline was highlighted by the loss of Alex Atwood's seat in West Belfast. It will be the first time the SDLP will have no representation in the nationalist constituency at Stormont since its foundation.
    The loss of former minister Danny Kennedy's seat in the Newry and Armagh border constituency symbolised the demise of the Ulster Unionists.
    Despite public anger at the DUP, who were accused of mishandling and defending a botched green energy scheme, which has the potential to cost the taxpayer half a billion pounds, the larger unionist party easily beat off the challenge from the UUP. (Guardian)
  • 18:51

  • 19:03
    Harry McGee reports:
    I did an interesting interview with Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams where he set out the reasons for Sinn Féin’s success and where it goes from here. He first of all said that Northern leader Michelle O’Neill has already sent an invitation to other parties.
    He had some nice, but also some very critical, things to say about the DUP, who he said had "lost the run of themselves." He also suggested a solution to the Arlene problem - to do what he did when he nominated Martin McGuinness to be DFM even though Adams was the leader.
    Here is the gist of the interview:
    “These things can be brokered in one day. Obviously it’s very difficult to create the ambience and the circumstances for that to happen.
    “There is no reasons why it can’t be sorted out in the three week (gap that is allowed by legislation).
    “There are some things that you cannot legislate for. When Martin McGuiness talks about respect.
    I have talked to the DUP many times. They are the same as the rest of us. They are decent enough people. They want good for their kids and so on,” he said.
    But then in a direct criticism, he added:
    “They lost the run of themselves. You are living now in a totally different atmosphere. They got themselves in a little bubble. That bubble has been punctured by Martin McGuinness and by others..
    “I don’t want to sound preachy. We should be reflective about this.
    “If you are the DUP, You have to realise that you are only going to get limited chances to deal with this.
    “We cannot be part of the institutions without their consent. They now need to know they cannot be part of it without our consent. We are not looking for top dog or looking for any unfair advantage.
    “We simply want what’s been agreed and work out time frames for implementing it and that we deal with each other with a bit of decency and respect, in many ways that we do privately.
    Turning to the issues facing DUP leader Arlene Foster, he said:
    “We have not ae a judgement on the allegations, potentially half a million pounds going down the tube. There’s no country in the world that would allow that happen without some robust transparent investigation or inquiry to what happened.
    She says she is innocent and let us have that vindicated as quickly as possible.
    “Is there a precenccdent for this? Yes. I nominated Martin McGuinness as Deputy First Minister. I did not nominate myself.
    “I am the party leader. If i get the chance I am going to nominate Michelle O’Neill. I am not going to nominate myself. “All Arelne is being asked to do id instil bit of public confidence in the process, get an agreement with us and others about how we want to run our affairs in the upcoming period. And then if we get it going, step aside without prejudice to allow this inquiry follow its course.”

  • 19:16

    Belfast West is complete.

    4 Sinn Fein (Orlaithi Flynn,  Alex Maskey,  Fra McCann &  Pat Sheehan)

    and 1 PBP (Gerry Carroll)


  • 19:33

  • 19:38


  • 19:51

    Mike Nesbitt has been elected

  • 19:52

  • 19:53

    More results in...

  • 19:57

  • 19:59

  • 20:05
    Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) member Alex Attwood prepares to make a concession speech after failing to be elected to the Northern Ireland Assembly at the count centre in Belfast, Co Antrim. Photograph: AFP/Getty<br><br><br><br><table border='0'><tbody><tr><td class='newstext' colspan='2' align='left'>
    Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) member Alex Attwood prepares to make a concession speech after failing to be elected to the Northern Ireland Assembly at the count centre in Belfast, Co Antrim. Photograph: AFP/Getty

  • 20:07

    Mike Nesbitt has resigned



  • 20:16
    Mike Nesbitt has resigned as leader of the Ulster Unionists. The former TV anchor tried to lead the party onto a more moderate and centrist course, but struggled to find traction with unionists. The UUP been eclipsed by the DUP over the past two decades.
    Nesbitt's downfall was his decision to forge an unoffical vote transfer pact with the SDLP. The novel idea of cross-community transfer was just too much and many of its votes migrated to the DUP and to the Alliance.
    While the party will come back with eight or nine seats, there were some critical losses including Danny Kennedy in Newry and Armagh.
    There is no immediate successor on the horizon. You wonder can the UUP ever regain the ground it has lost to the DUP, which is now totally dominant on the the unionist side. The Alliance might also consolidate on former UUP votes it has gained.
  • 20:21

    McCausland has been eliminated

  • 20:22

  • 20:28

  • 20:28

  • 20:34

    Thankfully someone has remembered to feed our reporter Amanda Ferguson


  • 20:40

    50 seats declared

  • 20:50


    For all the latest results go to our NI results page.


  • 20:51

  • 20:52

  • 20:54

    This will be close

  • 20:57
    No official announcement yet but ...
  • 21:07

    Mike Nesbitt's resignation statement


  • 21:10

    Newry and Armagh are complete

    DUP poll topper William Irwin said unionists in Newry and Armagh did not buy the “bad press and political attacks” his party faced.
    While Mr Irwin secured a return to Stormont, UUP veteran Danny Kennedy’s long tenure at Stormont came to an end.
    The former deputy party leader said it is unlikely that he will remain in politics following the defeat.
    Sinn Fein’s Cathal Boylan, Megan Fearon and Conor Murphy were also elected, as was the SDLP’s Justin McNulty.
    Mr Irwin said his constituency had spoken loud and clear.
    “We have had a lot of bad press from the media and been attacked by other parties across the board. My constituency spoke out loud and clear — people saw through a lot of the attacks,” he said.
    “I didn’t get involved in the mudslinging and I fought a clean fight.”
    Sinn Fein’s Cathal Boylan said: “The message from Sinn Fein about equality, respect and integrity has come out for us and that is the message we were giving out on the doorsteps. This is a mandate to renegotiate.”

  • 21:11

    Belfast West are complete

    Sinn Fein reasserted its dominance in west Belfast in a contest that saw the end of SDLP stalwart Alex Attwood’s tenure at Stormont.
    Chastened after People Before Profit (PBP) topped the poll in 2016, Sinn Fein’s Orlaithi Flynn secured top spot this time.
    PBP’s Gerry Carroll did retain his seat along with three other familiar Sinn Fein faces, Pat Sheehan, Alex Maskey and Fra McCann.
    Ms Flynn said a “step change” was needed at Stormont.
    “There can be no return to the status quo,” she said.
    Mr Attwood, an MLA since 1998, delivered an emotional speech.
    “I feel I have let the SDLP down,” he said. “I feel I have let the people of west Belfast down.”

  • 21:12

    Dolores Kelly is back

  • 21:21

    Chris Lyttle



  • 21:23

  • 21:28

    Upper Bann completed

  • 21:31

    57 seats filled


  • 21:36

    Our Assembly election: Sinn Féin surge raises many questions

    Analysis by Gerry Moriarty, the Northern Ireland Editor for the Irish Times

    Politics in Northern Ireland is shaken not stirred. Sinn Féin is the story of this election, and that is demonstrated strikingly in the figures. In last year’s Assembly election just 10 months ago the DUP was almost 36,000 votes ahead of Sinn Féin. Now there are less than 1,200 votes between the two parties, with the Democratic Unionists marginally in front.
    This will have significant implications. It will raise questions over Arlene Foster’s leadership of the DUP, not least because she as much as – and possibly more than – Gerry Adams, Martin McGuinness and Michelle O’Neill managed to get Sinn Féin voters out in big numbers.
    It will bring constitutional and confrontational matters such as a Border poll to the fore. It will further embolden Adams and Sinn Féin. It will cause unionism much reflection and unease.
    It could damage the SDLP and the Ulster Unionists, creating the notion that Sinn Féin and the DUP really are the only nationalist and unionist players in the game.
    It also raises the question over how long it will take to restore the Northern Executive and Assembly after the dust settles, or whether Stormont is to be mothballed for a long time.
    This time the people of Northern Ireland decided to speak with a louder and greater voice. Close to 110,000 more people than 10 months ago voted in this election.

    Full article

  • 21:41

    Belfast north


  • 21:45

    60 of the 90 seats declared

  • 21:54
    Harry McGee reports:
    Naomi Long, the Alliance Party leader, topped the poll in East Belfast. And that was redolent of a really good day for the party, which looks like it will retain eight seats, which is no mean achievement in an election where each constituency has lost one seat. To top it all, her colleague in East Belfast, Chris Lyttle, was also elected just now.
    Speaking to us a short time ago in the Titanic Exhibition Hall, she said: “Obviously we are thrilled to the response we had in the election where other moderate parties saw a squeeze.
    “To grow our vote by 50 percent in that context is remarkable. We have held the eight seats we had and that is a gain.
    “It was not a protest vote. We gave a positive alternative
    “People responded to the positive campaign and the message that lay behind it.
    “it was largest turnout since the first assembly elections. People saw the institutions in jeopardy and were despairing about the future. They want hem to work.
    “a lot of people obviously voted for something that will deliver real change. That was ultimately that was the message.”
    She said that the situation at the moment painted “quite a pessimistic picture on the surface” but those issues need to be worked thorugh.
    “People dug themselves into a very difficult position and have drawn a lot of red lines. The important thing is they listen very carefully to the message from the electorate
    “Sinn Féin got a very resounding vote and it has sent a strong message to the DUP about respect in government… Neither the dup or sf should take those vote for granted.”
    She said at the end of he day a solution had to be found, where there was an executive that was open, transparent and accountable and was in a position to deliver on the economy, on creating jobs and dealing with the legacy issues.
    If that was achieved the Alliance would go into govenrment. If not, it would return to opposition as it had done last May, she said.
  • 22:05

  • 22:06

    Claire Sugden has been elected


  • 22:07

  • 22:07

  • 22:09

  • 22:10

    South Down is complete


  • 22:10

  • 22:12

  • 22:17

  • 22:31
  • 22:32

    So where are we?

    This is where we are.

    • 74 of 90  Seats filled
    • 11 of 18  Constituencies complete
  • 22:36

    Issues that came up during the campaign

    - The prosecution of soldiers for conflict killings.
    The DUP are demanding measures to ensure British troops who served in Northern Ireland cannot face probes into their actions if they have already been investigated. Extra money for fresh inquests into controversial killings has been withheld amid discord over a new unit planned to investigate thousands of conflict deaths.

    - The Renewable Heat Incentive.
    The botched green energy scheme is predicted to cost taxpayers up to £490 million over the next 20 years. A public inquiry is due to begin hearings after the election. DUP leader Arlene Foster was the minister in charge when the RHI began. She denied any wrongdoing, refused to step aside as First Minister and branded claims she was arrogant as political “smears”.

  • 22:39

    Some other issues that came up

    - Cross-community voting.

    UUP leader Mike Nesbitt said during the campaign that, after his own party, he would vote for the SDLP. The comment prompted a backlash from some in his party, who depend on transfers from other unionists, as well as ridicule from the DUP. Transfers from UUP candidates will be watched closely today and tomorrow.

    - An Irish language act.
    The campaign for a law giving official protection is a touchstone equality issue for Sinn Fein. Arlene Foster has said more people speak Polish, and the DUP withheld support.

  • 22:39
    Here is my crocodile-inspired piece on what fell out today:
  • 22:43


    Steven Agnew has been elected for the Green Party in North Down.

    So that's another constituency complete.

  • 23:10
    Andy Allen (UUP) elected in East Belfast  
  • 23:15
  • 23:17

    Nichola Mallon, Gerry Kelly and Carál Ni Chuilín deemed elected in Belfast North.  

    Along with the other two DUP MLAs, Belfast North is now complete.  

  • 23:20
  • 23:21
  • 23:30

    There are now just 11 seats left to be decided in the Assembly. . .

    2 in Belfast East,
    2 in Belfast South,
    4 in East Derry,
    1 in Foyle,
    2 in Lagan Valley.

  • 23:31
    UUP Doug Beattie has told the BBC that telling people to transfer votes to SDLP was a mistake & damaged the party election chances.  
  • 23:33
    From Harry McGee:
    So another Belfast seat just decided there. Joanne Bunting of the DUP elected in East Belfast.
  • 23:33
    My tweet on final result in North Belfast.
  • 23:41

    The Lagan Valley is now complete...

  • 23:42
  • 23:49

    Maurice Bradley and George Robinson (both DUP) have been elected in East Derry on the 9th count.

    Claire Sugden was already elected. She’s an independent unionist.

    So still in the mix for the final two seats are . . .  

    Caoimhe Archibald (SF) on 6,320 votes after 9 counts, John Dallat (SDLP) on 5,298 and Cathal Ó hOisín (SF) on 5,211.

  • 23:56
    Harry McGee reports:
    Did we downplay the SDLP performance?
    With the single transferable vote, it's always a little churlish to predict outcomes on early counts. Transfer patterns can vary and seemingly insurmountable gaps can be bridged by one big transfer.
    It didn't look great for the SDLP this morning, especially when Alex Atwood lost out in West Belfast.
    But the party could return to Stormont with 12, the same number it had. That would represent a great victory from it, with a huge surge in later counts.
    Dolores Kelly in Upper Bann and Pat Catney in the Lagan Valley both stole in for surprise seats. And it looks like John Dallat will close a 1,500 vote gap with Sinn Féin's Cathal O hOisin to take the final seat in East Derry by a handful of votes, maybe as few as 20.
    If that's the case, it will prove to be a great day for the SDLP, which has maintained its number of seats, despite the assembly being reduced from 108 seats to 90.
    That's a powerful vindication for party leader Colum Eastwood.
    Between them both nationalist parties will have almost 40 seats, which represents significant gains.
  • 23:58

    SDLP's Pat Catney says he wants to "make Northern Ireland work"


    "It has to be with complete equality. We got a great result here."

  • 23:59

    The DUP's Edwin Poots says it's "absolutely appalling that more Unionists voted for a nationalist than Brenda Hale. A disgrace."


  • 00:03
  • 00:04
  • 00:05

    Only five to go...

  • 00:06
  • 00:22
  • 00:24

    A wrap from Freya McClements in the Foyle Arena in Derry . . .  

    It was Sinn Fein’s election in Foyle, topping the poll and pushing the SDLP leader Colum Eastwood into third place in the party’s traditional stronghold of Derry.

    Former mayor Elisha McCallion – standing as an MLA for the first time – took more than 9,000 first preference votes and was elected on the first count.  

    Her party colleague Raymond McCartney came in just a few hundred votes short of the quota of 7,437, and was the second MLA elected.  

    It was a significant moment for Sinn Fein in Derry, which has long tried to make inroads into the SDLP majority in Foyle.  

    Now the numbers have swung Sinn Fein’s way, with 2,000 more first preferences than the SDLP.

    “It’s an outstanding success,” said McCartney. “There’s no doubt that Sinn Fein has outpolled the SDLP in Derry and South Down, and that’s outstanding.

    “The number of people who voted for us exceeded even our expectations, but the message we were getting at the doors was that people understood what we stood for and that it was about treating people with dignity and respect, and they responded to that.”  

    The SDLP leader Colum Eastwood was elected on the third count; his party colleague, the former environment minister Mark H Durkan, took the fourth seat.  

    “Mark and I are very happy that we’ve increased our vote in this city,” said Eastwood.  

    “This has been a very difficult and a very divisive election but all of us have to put our shoulder to the wheel now to put things back together again.

    “We’ve been counted out many times, we’ve been counted out today, but now we’re back in good shape.”  

    The final seat went to the DUP’s Gary Middleton, at the expense of former People Before Profit MLA Eamonn McCann.  

    There had been speculation before the election that the reduction from six to five seats, and McCann’s support for Brexit, would lead to the veteran campaigner losing his seat, and McCann admitted during the count that he didn’t believe he had sufficient transfers to be re-elected.  

    “Brexit of course did not play with us,” admitted McCann, “but it was a position of principle that we had in relation to the European Union and we weren’t going to change.  

    “Personally I feel disappointed but I’ll be as active as ever as a campaigner.”

    The most notable absence at the count centre was the former deputy first minister Martin McGuinness, who topped the poll in Foyle in the last Assembly election.

    Forced to step down from politics due to ill-health, both Sinn Fein MLAs paid tribute to his influence.      

    “Although he wasn’t on the campaign, he was with me,” said McCartney.

    “He told me it was breaking his heart, not running, and I said to him that my pledge to him was that we would lift his heart with the result.  

    “No doubt he will be heartened by the result not just in Derry, but across the North.”  


  • 00:33


    Two Belfast constituencies still to be called (East 1 and South 2) likely to finish within the hour we're told.

  • 00:34
    DUP poll topper William Irwin has said unionists in Newry and Armagh did not buy the “bad press and political attacks” his party faced.
    “We have had a lot of bad press from the media and been attacked by other parties across the board. My constituency spoke out loud and clear - people saw through a lot of the attacks,” he said.  “I didn’t get involved in the mudslinging and I fought a clean fight.”
  • 00:51

    So, 5 seats left. . .  this is what's happening.

    In Belfast East, there is one seat to fill.

    It will definitely be a DUP seat, as the contest is between colleagues, David Douglas and Robin Newton.

    Already elected there are . .  

    Naomi Long Alliance
    Chris Lyttle Alliance
    Andy Allen UUP
    Joanne Bunting DUP

  • 00:56

    In East Derry, there are 2 seats left.
    Caoimhe Archibald and Cathal Ó hOisín (Sinn Fein) and John Dallat (SDLP) are still in the hunt.
    Looks like Ó hOisín will be the one to miss the cut.

    Earlier, Maurice Bradley (DUP) and George Robinson (DUP) were elected.

  • 01:02

    And in Belfast South, there are also 2 seats left.

    It was predicted to be a cliffhanger and so it's turned out.

    Left in the race are Clare Bailey (Greens), Emma Little Pengelly (DUP) and Christopher Stalford (DUP) and Michael Henderson (UUP).

    Already elected are
    Mairtin O Muilleoir (Sinn Fein)
    Paula Bradshaw (Alliance)
    Claire Hanna (SDLP)

  • 01:10


    Belfast East is done.

    Robin Newton has won, pipping his DUP colleague.


    DUP now take the lead from Sinn Fein in the seats game - 27 to 26.

  • 01:15
  • 01:17
  • 01:20

    Emma Little Pengelly apparently has indicated she thinks she won't make it in Belfast South, which probably mean seats for her party colleague Christopher Stalford (DUP), as well as Claire Bailey (Green Party).

    Nothing official yet though.

  • 01:22
  • 01:31

    All done in  East Derry.

    Caoimhe Archibald (Sinn Fein) and John Dallat (SDLP)  win the final two seats  

    Cathal Ó hOisín (Sinn Fein)  misses out (like we predicted).

    Earlier, Maurice Bradley (DUP) and George Robinson (DUP) were elected

  • 01:33
  • 01:40
    Harry McGee reports:
    The vote swing was dramatic for two parties.
    Sinn Féin's vote share increased by 4 per cent and the Alliance was up by 2 per cent.
    But they did not gouge support from other parties. The DUP was down just over 1 per cent; the SDLP were down by 0.1 per cent which is negligible, and the UUP' support went up marginally.
    It returned with 10 seats which was bad but not disastrous. Was Mike Nesbitt's resignation decision a little too hasty?
    That said, commentators here have questioned his political judgement on several issues, particularly on transfers.
    There was a 5 per cent fall for Independents and for smaller parties, which includes PBP, the TUV, the PUP.
    And now in one of the very final acts of the night, we might see the unexpected happen with the Ulster Unionists taking a completely unexpected seat in South Belfast.
    Its candidate Michael Henderson has seemingly snuck up on Emma Little Pengelly of the DUP. Her votes will guarantee a seat for her DUP running mate Christopher Stalford.
    But will it also take Henderson up past Claire Bailey of the Greens. She is within a few hundred votes of the quota but can't expect too many transfers from the DUP who tend to transfer only to other unionists.
    The outcome of the seat will be a close-run thing.
    That would be a body blow for the Greens who gained that extra seat only 10 months ago.
    But it would bring the UUP to 11 seats, only two short of its break-even situation.
    Perhaps, Nesbitt will be prevailed to reverse his decision a la Nigel Farage!

  • 01:54
  • 01:58
  • 02:08
  • 02:18
  • 02:18
  • 02:18
    Twitter is now filled with gifs about Belfast South.

  • 02:20
    Harry McGee writes:
    It is mathematically possible for Michael Henderson of the UUP to overtake Clare Bailey of the Green Party. But he would have to take virtually all of the DUP votes available after the exclusion of Emma Little Pengelly. That means Bailey getting a handful of votes and Henderson getting close to 90 per cent. Bailey is still 456 votes short of the quote. The DUP votes won't bring her there. You have to guess that a small portion will be non-transferable - thus making Bailey the marginal favourite to hold on.
  • 02:25
    Harry McGee:
    As we wait for South Belfast an admission. I did three constituency profiles. I was wrong in Foyle where I gave Eamon McCann a seat in front of Sinn Féin. I was wrong in Newry and Armagh where I found it hard to believe Sinn Féin could hold three. I was right in East Derry but looked wrong in East Derry for most of the day.
    Look at John Dallat's figures. He got only 7.9 per cent of first preferences. That's less than half a quota and still managed to get elected. Reminds you a bit of Maureen O'Sullivan in Dublin.
    What cost McCann and affected Gerry Carroll in West Belfast was Brexit. People Before Profit campaigned for it. Foyle, so close to the border, voted strongly to remain in the EU. Their opponents focused in on this issue in their attacks on the PBP MLAs and were very effective.
    Both tried to show their form of exiting was very different to that of UKIP and others. But they struggled in making their arguments and never sounded convincing.

  • 02:29
  • 02:29
  • 02:34
    Christopher Stalford (DUP) elected in Belfast South
  • 02:35
    So that's 89 seats filled, one to go.
  • 02:36
  • 02:38
    So Emma Pengelly's transfers continue.

    The final seat will either be for the Green Party or UUP.

  • 02:40
  • 02:50
    We know for sure now that
    - the DUP have narrowly remained Northern Ireland's largest party after edging Sinn Fein by a single seat.
    - The DUP won 28 of the 90 seats as a surging Sinn Fein almost wiped out the 10-seat advantage the DUP had secured in elections a year ago.
    - Just over 1,000 votes split the main parties from the 800,000 ballots cast in the closest ever
    assembly election.
    - The two largest parties will have three weeks to form a new power-sharing government to avoid devolved power returning to the British parliament at Westminster for the first time in a decade.
  • 02:55
  • 03:01
    If you are still up . . . well, we may have seat number 90 very soon.

    Belfast South candidates gathering.

    Something is happening!
  • 03:08
  • 03:09
    With the Green Party taking the final seat, they now have 2 seats - the same number they came into the election with.
  • 03:15
    So the 90 seats break down as follows:
    DUP 28 seats
    Sinn Fein 27
    SDLP 12
    UUP 10
    Alliance 8
    Green Party 2
    PBP 1
    TUV 1
    Independent Unionist 1
  • 03:19