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Tuesday, 6 November, 2001, 17:07 GMT
Scuffles as Trimble re-elected
Scuffles broke out when Mr Durkan and Mr Trimble were speaking
Scuffles broke out at a post-election news conference
David Trimble has been re-elected as Northern Ireland's first minister, four days after being defeated in the first poll of assembly members.

As he was addressing a news conference after being elected, scuffles broke out between pro and anti-Agreement members just outside the assembly chamber at Stormont.

A special meeting of the Northern Ireland Assembly on Tuesday voted in favour of Mr Trimble and incoming SDLP leader Mark Durkan being appointed first and deputy first ministers.


We have shown that we can deliver responsible, accountable government to Northern Ireland

David Trimble

David Trimble said he looked forward to working with Mr Durkan.

"We have shown that we can deliver responsible, accountable government to Northern Ireland," he said.

Mr Durkan said: "We are faced with a situation today, where David Trimble, I and other pro-Agreement colleagues in the executive and in the assembly are determined to provide this region with good government.

"Other people are determined to indulge in bad politics."

Postpone

The Ulster Unionist leader had failed to regain the post on Friday after two dissident members of his own party voted against him.

In Tuesday's vote, there were 99 votes cast, with 70 members voting in favour. Of the 60 unionists who voted, 31 voted in favour. All 38 nationalist members voted in favour.

The vote was postponed on Monday after a group of unionists opposed to the Good Friday Agreement succeeded in passing a procedural device to delay it.

The measure prevented the centre Alliance Party temporarily re-designating three of its assembly members as unionists in order to swing the vote for Mr Trimble.

However, they re-designated on Tuesday.

Earlier, the DUP lodged another attempt to delay the vote but were blocked by the speaker.

Prime Minister Tony Blair welcomed the elections and said: "The people of Northern Ireland can now look forward to a sustained period of stable government."

Irish Premier Bertie Ahern said: "I applaud the efforts of the pro-Agreement parties in coming together in a spirit of co-operation to ensure that the challenge to the Good Friday Agreement was successfully addressed."

John Reid
John Reid: Welcomed "cross-community partnership"

Northern Ireland Secretary John Reid said there had been a renewal of cross-community partnerships in what he called a "massive step forward".

"Today's election is a landmark because, for the first time since the Agreement and institutions were created..... we can move forward, confident, and with a real expectation of stability," he said.

Dr Reid, who is to begin a review of some of the procedures on 9 November, said there was no need to have fresh assembly elections before May 2003.

However, the anti-Agreement Democratic Unionist Party has said it will go back to court to try to get a ruling on when Dr Reid should call an assembly election.

The DUP wants an early election, claiming Dr Reid should have called one on Saturday at midnight, because no first minister had been elected by then.

Power-sharing

The Ulster Unionist leader had withdrawn his party from the power-sharing executive to put pressure on republicans.

He decided to stand for re-election and go back into government with Sinn Fein after the IRA said it had put some weapons out of action two weeks ago.

A deadline to fill the posts and prevent the collapse of the power-sharing executive passed on Saturday after Mr Trimble failed to secure his election on Friday by the narrowest of margins.

However, Dr Reid extended the deadline after the Alliance Party said it would help swing the vote in the UUP leader's favour.

On Monday, a High Court judge dismissed legal action against Dr Reid's decision not to call fresh elections to the assembly.

Peter Robinson:
Peter Robinson: Legal action

The action was brought by the DUP deputy leader, Peter Robinson.

The Alliance Party said its decision to re-designate had not been taken lightly.

Party leader David Ford said: "We have seen a cross-party and a cross-community effort."

The election of the first and deputy first ministers could not have been passed in the assembly unless they gained the support of a majority of both the unionist and nationalist blocs because of the cross-party majority voting rules.

DUP leader Ian Paisley said: "A rigging system has been taken to do two things: to undermine the authority of the assembly as it should be conducted under its standing orders and secondly, the secretary of state has now thumbed his nose at the courts."

Sinn Fein's Martin McGuinness said the DUP had "had their day".

"They enjoyed themselves yesterday, they didn't enjoy themselves today and that resulted in the unseemly scenes we have witnessed," he said.

The Women's Coalition's Monica McWilliams said it was "finally a good day for all of us".

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Kevin Connolly
"Finally push literally came to shove"
David Trimble, Northern Ireland's first minister
makes his acceptance speech as a scuffle breaks out nearby
The Northern Ireland Secretary Dr. John Reid
"Today's election is a landmark"
David Ford, leader of the Alliance Party
"Our votes have not been used to suit our political convience"

Assembly back

IRA arms breakthrough

Background

Loyalist ceasefire

FORUM

SPECIAL REPORT: IRA

TALKING POINT

TEXTS/TRANSCRIPTS

AUDIO VIDEO
See also:

06 Nov 01 | Northern Ireland
Governments welcome Trimble election
04 Nov 01 | Northern Ireland
Politicians create tense backdrop
04 Nov 01 | Northern Ireland
Reid dismisses NI legal threat
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