Page last updated at 14:44 GMT, Thursday, 5 June 2008 15:44 UK

Robinson is new NI first minister

Peter Robinson
Mr Robinson has been appointed first minister

Peter Robinson and Martin McGuinness have been appointed first and deputy first ministers of the Northern Ireland Assembly.

Mr Robinson was nominated by former DUP leader Ian Paisley and Mr McGuinness by Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams.

The new first minister said it was important that "people learned from the past, not live in it".

The deputy first minister said the "honeymoon period" at Stormont was over and that it was time to deliver.

Addressing a special sitting of the assembly, Mr Robinson said: "If devolution is to be meaningful to the people of Northern Ireland then the responsibility for delivering results rests with all of us.

"Of course the deputy first minister and I will have to roll up our sleeves - and neither of us will duck the challenges or recoil from the hard work that such tasks require."

Mr McGuinness said: "The honeymoon period is over. This is now about hard work, people out there expecting results and we are here to deliver."

He added: "We are determined to bring an early conclusion to the talks that begin tomorrow to resolve all of the issues outstanding from the St Andrews Agreement."

I think this 12 months that we've had has been one of the most important 12 months of Ulster's modern history
Ian Paisley

There had been speculation Sinn Féin would not renominate Mr McGuinness when Mr Paisley stood down.

The leaders of other parties were critical of the uncertainty that had been allowed to grow.

Ulster Unionist Sir Reg Empey said: "The problems we face do not lie in London and they do not lie in Dublin. The unresolved problems lie here Mr Speaker, in this chamber."

The SDLP's Mark Durkan said the potential crisis was "a result of political showboating, coming particularly on the part of Sinn Féin".

David Ford of the Alliance Party said it was time "those who have been charged with government in this place actually took up their duties and stopped acting like squabbling children".

Martin McGuinness
Martin McGuinness was reappointed deputy first minister

Earlier, outgoing first minister Mr Paisley wished his Northern Ireland Executive colleagues well.

He said he was glad to have presided over a government which had put Northern Ireland in a good position.

"We have come from darkness into light," he said.

"I think this 12 months that we've had has been one of the most important 12 months of Ulster's modern history."

It is 14 months since devolution was restored.

Assembly colleagues paid tribute to Mr Paisley.

Mr Adams said: "Ian Paisley has been part of the political landscape for as long as I can remember.

"And he may be pleased to know that it was his desire to visit the Falls Road and Divis Street in 1964 that first whetted my interest in irish politics."

On Wednesday night, a joint statement from Mr Robinson and Mr McGuinness averted a potential crisis.

They said they "look forward to working together after we have been nominated as first minister and deputy first minister.

"We recognise there are outstanding and unresolved issues which have been raised with the prime minister and which require urgent attention."

These issues are to be discussed with Prime Minister Gordon Brown on Friday.


Peter Robinson and Martin McGuinness accepted their nominations at a special sitting at Stormont

Peter Robinson's speech in full
05 Jun 08 |  Northern Ireland
Reaction as Paisley stands down
05 Jun 08 |  Northern Ireland
Robinson, McGuinness taking posts
05 Jun 08 |  Northern Ireland
Robinson confirmed as DUP leader
31 May 08 |  Northern Ireland
Robinson to follow Paisley path
14 Apr 08 |  Northern Ireland

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit


Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific