As an historic power-sharing deal is struck by the leaders of the DUP and Sinn Fein, we look at those most closely involved in the process towards Northern Ireland devolution.
IAN PAISLEY, DUP LEADER
Ian Paisley, once famous for saying 'no', has made an about-turn and now wants to settle into power-sharing rather than retirement.
It appears the 80-year-old would like to be first minister, even if the price of that is Martin McGuinness as his deputy.
He believes devolution will make a "real, meaningful improvement" to the lives of people in Northern Ireland.
GERRY ADAMS, SINN FEIN LEADER
Devolution would cement Gerry Adams's reputation among some as Northern Ireland's Nelson Mandela, the man who was unlucky not to win a Nobel prize for shifting his movement from armed struggle to peaceful politics.
For others, he will remain a hate figure, an apologist for IRA violence.
Having already nominated Martin McGuinness for deputy first minister, it is possible he could opt for the education portfolio.
MARK DURKAN, SDLP LEADER
Mark Durkan, the youngest of the party leaders, has long accepted he must demonstrate that the SDLP is about more than just the peace process itself.
Mr Durkan's critics - republicans included - concede the SDLP is becoming revitalised and he will now have the time and space needed to implement his long-term comeback strategy.
SIR REG EMPEY, ULSTER UNIONIST LEADER
Sir Reg Empey, successor to David Trimble, will return to government in a vastly reduced capacity.
Last time around, his party were in charge, held the position of first minister and had a number of seats around the cabinet table.
Now following the elections, his party will go back in with two ministerial portfolios.
DAVID FORD, ALLIANCE PARTY LEADER
David Ford enters the new assembly in a stronger position.
Having been expected to lose seats, his party gained one seat and since the election have reached agreement with members of the legislative assembly (one independent and one green) to form a "coherent opposition".
TONY BLAIR, UK PRIME MINISTER
Tony Blair has been anxious to achieve a deal on devolution in his last year in office.
He said: "Everything we have done over the last 10 years has been a preparation for this moment."
Some say devolution will secure his legacy, and that he may then be remembered as much for bringing peace to Northern Ireland as for the Iraq war.
BERTIE AHERN, IRISH PRIME MINISTER
Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern said devolution had "the potential to transform the future of this island".
Without it, conflict, even violence, could return, he had earlier warned.
"This morning saw unprecedented and very positive developments."
PETER HAIN, NORTHERN IRELAND SECRETARY
Peter Hain says devolution is the culmination of years of work by Tony Blair, himself and his predecessors.
People now wanted their politicians to concentrate on "bread and butter issues".
The role of Northern Ireland Secretary should remain until devolution in justice and policing, he says, but Mr Hain himself has made no secret of his intention to enter the race for deputy leader, once John Prescott steps down.