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Last Updated: Friday, 9 March 2007, 01:33 GMT
DUP and Sinn Fein on top in poll
Sinn Fein West Belfast
Sinn Fein has had five candidates elected in West Belfast
The DUP and Sinn Fein have taken more than half the first preference votes between them in the Northern Ireland Assembly election.

The DUP received 30.1% of first preferences - up 4.4% from 2003 - while Sinn Fein got 26.2%, up 2.6%.

More than half of the 108 seats have so far been decided, with counting due to finish later.

The British and Irish governments hope the outcome will lead to the restoration of devolved government.

In third place, the SDLP received 15.2% of first preferences, the Ulster Unionists 14.9% and Alliance 5.2%.

Party Seats +/-
DUP 36 +6
SF 28 +4
UUP 18 -9
SDLP 16 -2
AP 7 +1
GP 1 +1
PUP 1 0
UKUP 0 -1
OTH 1
After 108 of 108 elected

Almost 250 candidates were standing in 18 constituencies in the proportional representation election.

The leaders of the four main parties have all been returned, the DUP's Ian Paisley and Sinn Fein's Gerry Adams topping the polls in North Antrim and West Belfast respectively.

SDLP leader Mark Durkan was elected on the first count at Foyle, but UUP leader Sir Reg Empey had to wait to the third stage before being returned in East Belfast.

A power-sharing executive is due to be formed on 26 March. Northern Ireland Secretary Peter Hain urged the new intake of assembly members to deliver devolved government.

"It is clear from the early set of results that people in Northern Ireland voted overwhelmingly for power sharing and they want their politicians to run with it on March 26," he said.

UUP leader Sir Reg Empey said the results, so far, had been disappointing for his party, but that their aim remained a "functioning, devolved Stormont".

Diane Dodds and Nigel Dodds
Diane Dodds lost her seat but her husband, Nigel, kept his.

Gerry Adams said those who voted did so to see Northern Ireland's institutions working and "those against that have their answer, it seems, in fairly overwhelming terms".

Ian Paisley said Sinn Fein had to "turn from their evil ways".

Mark Durkan said: "We have held up our vote. Let's wait until the count is over, we will see how it stacks up."

In South Belfast the first person from an ethnic minority background was elected to the assembly. Anna Lo, a member of the Chinese community, won a seat for the Alliance Party.

In West Belfast Sinn Fein took five seats and the SDLP one, with the DUP's Diane Dodds losing her seat. PUP leader Dawn Purvis retained her party's only seat in East Belfast.

In East Antrim the area's MP, Sammy Wilson, topped the poll for the DUP with 6,755 first preference votes.

In South Antrim Sinn Fein's Mitchel McLaughlin topped the poll with 6,313 votes.

Alasdair McDonnell of the SDLP was returned in South Belfast and Naomi Long of Alliance was elected in East Belfast.

The vote count is under way in all constituencies

In North Belfast the DUP's Nigel Dodds topped the poll with 6,973 votes and Sinn Fein policing spokesman Gerry Kelly was elected in the second spot with 5,414 votes.

The Northern Ireland Assembly has been suspended since October 2002, amid allegations of an IRA spy ring at Stormont. A subsequent court case collapsed. Direct rule has been in place since that date.

Get the latest results and live coverage by clicking on this link

A full results service is also available on Ceefax page 190.


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