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Wednesday, 7 November, 2001, 20:16 GMT
Governments welcome Trimble election
David Trimble and Mark Durkan
Mr Trimble (left) and Mr Durkan pledged to work together
The British and Irish Governments have welcomed the election of David Trimble as Northern Ireland First Minister.

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.

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.


I applaud the efforts of the pro-Agreement parties in coming together in a spirit of co-operation

Bertie Ahern, Irish Premier

UK 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 warmly congratulate David Trimble and Mark Durkan on their election as first minister and deputy first minister.

"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."

He said it was now important to move ahead with the full implementation of the Agreement.

'Good day'

Irish Minister for Foreign Affairs, Brian Cowen, said it was a good day for the process.

"This is the future - we don't want to be prisoners of history, we want to make our own history," he said.

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

Bertie Ahern
Bertie Ahern warmly congratulated David Trimble

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

He said he was well aware of the concerns many people had.

"I have demonstrated particularly over the decommissioning issue that I am prepared to ensure that this is carried through properly.

"We will continue the work and we will not allow ourselves to be distracted by the sort of mob violence that certain parties descend to."

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."

Ian Paisley:
Ian Paisley: "The DUP was not at all surprised"

He added: "I think by working the arrangements in the way they need to be worked, we are going to achieve co-operation and partnership not just between unionist parties, nationalist parties, republicans and loyalists but also those who voted yes for the Agreement and those who voted no."

'Substantial boost'

Speaking during a visit to Belfast, Nobel Peace laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu said: "It is wonderful to be able to come here when the peace process has received a very substantial boost in the actions of the IRA and Sinn Fein and what is taking place in your assembly."

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 Democratic Unionist Party earlier lodged an attempt to delay the vote but were blocked by the speaker.

DUP leader Ian Paisley: "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."

He said the DUP was "not at all surprised" at the attitude of some of the parties which "lined up" to put Mr Trimble back in power.

Martin McGuinness:
Martin McGuinness: "DUP have had their day"

Sinn Fein MP 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.

"They are effectively the past. We need to see the battle lines being drawn between the pro-Agreement parties and the rejectionists in the assembly."

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
"It was hard in the chaos to know who started it"
David Trimble, Northern Ireland's first minister
makes his acceptance speech as a scuffle breaks out nearby

Assembly back

IRA arms breakthrough

Background

Loyalist ceasefire

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SPECIAL REPORT: IRA

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TEXTS/TRANSCRIPTS

AUDIO VIDEO
See also:

06 Nov 01 | Northern Ireland
Trimble re-elected as NI first minister
04 Nov 01 | Northern Ireland
Politicians create tense backdrop
04 Nov 01 | Northern Ireland
Reid dismisses NI legal threat
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