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Last Updated: Wednesday, 7 March 2007, 22:16 GMT
Turnout up as Stormont poll ends
The vote count is under way in all constituencies

Polling has ended in Northern Ireland's Assembly elections, with the turnout said to be slightly up on the 2003 figure in a number of areas.

Nearly 250 candidates were standing across 18 constituencies for the 108 seats in the Stormont assembly.

Polling was steady, but reported to have been above 2003 levels in some areas including East Londonderry, North Antrim and parts of Strangford.

Vote counting will begin at 0900 GMT on Thursday and continue on Friday.

The government hopes the poll will pave the way for a return to devolution. A power-sharing executive is due to be formed on 26 March.

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.

More than 1m people in Northern Ireland are eligible to vote in the assembly election.

Ballot box

Reporters and television crews from countries such as the United States, Canada, Spain, France, Italy and beyond are in Northern Ireland to report on the poll and its outcome.

There were about 600 polling stations, with the smallest on Rathlin Island, off the north Antrim coastline.

There are 46 DUP candidates, 38 Ulster Unionist, 37 Sinn Fein, 35 SDLP and 18 Alliance candidates.

There are also 13 UKUP candidates - which includes the party leader standing in six different constituencies - 13 Green Party, nine Conservative and six Workers Party candidates.

The Make Politicians History Party is fielding the same candidate in the four Belfast constituencies, whilst the Progressive Unionist Party is running three candidates and there are two for the Socialist Party.

There is one candidate each for the following parties: Labour, People Before Profit, Pro-capitalism, Social Environmental Alliance and UKIP.

There are 26 independent candidates, which includes six Republican Sinn Fein candidates. They are being treated by the Electoral Office as independents, because they are not registered as a political party.

You can get all the latest results by clicking on the Vote 07 website where you will be able to watch live coverage from count centres across Northern Ireland from midday on Thursday.





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