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Wednesday, July 1, 1998 Published at 17:40 GMT 18:40 UK

Trimble elected First Minister

Political enemies sat opposite each other in the assembly

The 108 members of the new Northern Ireland Assembly have taken their seats for the inaugural session at Stormont.

The first day in a new political landscape. BBC Northern Ireland correspondent Dennis Murray reports
Among its first business was to elect Ulster Unionist leader David Trimble as First Minister and the SDLP's Seamus Mallon as his deputy.

The first session was chaired by Lord John Alderdice, who resigned earlier this week as leader of the cross-party Alliance Party. He was selected unopposed as presiding officer of the assembly.

[ image: 108 members took their seats for the first session at Stormont]
108 members took their seats for the first session at Stormont
The position of deputy presiding officer was left unfilled after no nominee was put forward.

A shirt-sleeved Gerry Adams took his seat opposite Ian Paisley in the chamber which also includes convicted IRA bomber Gerry Kelly.

One of the assembly's first tasks was to elect Ulster Unionist leader David Trimble as First Minister. His deputy is Seamus Mallon, deputy leader of the SDLP, the second-strongest party in the assembly.

David Trimble: "I will be amazed if the day proceeds without the issue coming up."
There were 88 votes cast in the ballot with 61 in favour of the proposal.

Party leader John Hume said a heavy workload prevented him from putting his own name forward.

David Trimble, Ulster Unionists: "Just another small step along the journey"
Mr Trimble and Mr Mallon were formally proposed by the Ulster Unionist Deputy Leader John Taylor, who paid tribute to both as men of courage and vision.

The proposal was seconded by John Hume and both Mr Trimble and Mr Mallon accepted the nomination.

Gerry Adams then rose to his feet to express his support for the two men, speaking in Irish.

[ image: Members were required to sign in]
Members were required to sign in
Earlier, Mr Trimble echoed the sentiment, expressed by many, that the new assembly would be able to work constructively.

He said: "I hope we are not going to see a day of stunts, people starting rows and walkouts.

"I hope we are getting past that and going to talk and show a determination to tackle our problems in a constructive spirit."

Jane Morrice, of the Women's Coalition said: "It is a very proud moment, it is history being made.

"We have got 108 people going in there who have been elected to do something and we are going to work hard."

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