[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Tuesday, 2 December, 2003, 00:04 GMT
DUP's Stormont talks 'positive'
Ian Paisley
Ian Paisley made significant gains in the election
The people who voted for the Democratic Unionists voted for "constructive change," Ian Paisley has said.

DUP leader Mr Paisley was speaking on Monday after his party met Secretary of State Paul Murphy for the first time since his party's success in last week's election.

He said the meeting at Stormont had been "positive" and that he believed some progress had been made.

"It is important for us to ensure that the agenda for negotiations is sufficiently broad to provide the necessary scope to deal with all the matters we are mandated to pursue," he added.

Mr Paisley said he wanted to hold face-to-face talks with Prime Minister Tony Blair.

He said he would tell Mr Blair that the voice of unionism was made clear in the election and must be heard.

'Difficult issues'

Speaking after the meeting, Mr Murphy said he would not rule out the DUP sharing power with Sinn Fein.

"Over the last six or seven years, all sorts of things have happened in Northern Ireland which people said would never happen," he said.

"I'm not going to say 'never never' to what might happen, because we just don't know, but there are difficult issues that we have to face, unquestionably."

The political institutions were suspended more than a year ago and the parties went into last week's assembly election against the background of a deadlocked process.

The DUP overtook the Ulster Unionists to become the biggest party, taking 30 seats. Sinn Fein secured 24 seats.

There is a strong feeling and a knowledge within the party all round that the UUP had better get united on policy, there is a split down the middle
David Burnside
Anti-Agreement Ulster Unionist

The Ulster Unionist leader, David Trimble, claimed Mr Paisley had no intention of becoming first minister, despite being leader of the largest party.

Speaking on BBC Two's Newsnight, he said: "Ian's desire has always been to be in oppostion. He's always wanted to beat us too, but that's presented him with a problem.

"He can't remain in perpetual opposition as the largest party. That's a very difficult thing to do and I don't think he'll be able to sustain it very much longer."

Also on Monday, anti-Agreement Ulster Unionist Jeffrey Donaldson confirmed that he was threatened with a special party council meeting calling for his resignation.

Mr Donaldson, who again called for Mr Trimble to step down, said he told a meeting of the Ulster Unionists' Assembly group that he believed "that if the party was to rebuild for the next election, the message from the voters would have to be heeded".

Mr Trimble insisted that he would not stand down and said that Mr Donaldson's comments were not an accurate reflection of the "amicable" two-hour meeting.

"It is rather unfortunate that someone is producing a conclusion before we've had the discussion," he said.

Unity call

Anti-Agreement Ulster Unionist David Burnside said that it had not been a good election but that the party had to try and rebuild.

"There is a strong feeling and a knowledge within the party all round that the UUP had better get united on policy, there is a split down the middle" he said.

Alliance Party leader David Ford told journalists at Stormont on Monday that reports of the demise of his party were "seriously exaggerated".

"We are back here to serve the people who elected us, to serve all those who wished to see a non sectarian future for Northern Ireland," he said.

FINAL RESULTS
PARTY
+/-
TOT
DUP
10
30
SF
6
24
UUP
-1
27
SDLP
-6
18
AP
0
6
PUP
-1
1
NIWC
-2
0
UKUP
-4
1
UUC
0
0
NIUP
0
0
Others
+1
1
After 108 of 108 seats declared

Earlier on Monday, DUP deputy leader Peter Robinson told BBC Northern Ireland's Good Morning Ulster that his party was not "running away" from helping the government to find solutions.

"In fairness to the government... they have stripped back the Belfast Agreement to what they describe as its fundamental principles and what we will want to explore with the secretary of state is just exactly what he sees those fundamental principles as being," Mr Robinson said.

"We are not running away from helping the government to find solutions. They will find we have ideas and that we are positive."

Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams has written to Mr Paisley, requesting talks with the DUP.

The letter was hand-delivered to the party's Stormont offices.




WATCH AND LISTEN
The BBC's Mark Simpson
"At the end of the day, Ian Paisley is still playing his cards close to his chest"


Ian Paisley, DUP leader
"We have had a positive discussion and believe we have made some progress"




LATEST NEWS
RESULTS SEARCH
To find out the results where you live, enter your full postcode
 
ELECTION GUIDE

KEY PEOPLE PROFILED
 
PARTY MANIFESTOES
 
POLITICAL PARTY LINKS
 
LINKS
 
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites



PRODUCTS AND SERVICES

News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East | South Asia
UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature | Technology | Health
Have Your Say | In Pictures | Week at a Glance | Country Profiles | In Depth | Programmes
Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific