Final counts underway but Trimble declares election 'stalemate'

Ulster Unionist leader, David Trimble has declared the 2003 Northern Ireland Assembly Elections a "stalemate".

Although the final few results were yet to be anounced on Friday afternoon the Upper Bann MP said: "We could all be back here in six months time."

The deputy leader of the DUP, Peter Robinson, whose party appears to be the largest in the election held in Wednesday, declared that Northern Ireland had entered a "post-Belfast Agreement phase". He said that the Unionist electorate had made their wishes clear and reitorated his party's stance that it would not negotiate with Sinn Fein.

However, former Deputy First Minister Seamus Mallon demanded to know what changes the DUP wished to impose on the pro-agreement parties and said that the important issue was to maintain the structures agreed under the Good Friday Agreement.

As counting proceeded this afternoon, over three-quarters of the seats for the 108-seat Assembly had been declared.

The early lead established by the Democratic Unionist Party, rapidly prompted hard liners within the Ulster Unionist Party, in particular Jeffery Donaldson, to renew their criticism of the Ulster Unionist Party's pro-agreement leadership stance of former First Minister David Trimble. But by later afternoon the gap between the two had closed dramatically with only a few seats left to be decided.

The SDLP led by former Deputy First Minister Mark Durkan have fared much worse than many expected. This was blamed on the retirement of the party's old guard and some encroachment into their vote share by Sinn Fein. The SDLP nevertheless managed to pick up several seats today, but will for the first time be in second place to rivals Sinn Fein.

The British Prime Minister and his Irish counterpart are to discuss the election results later today when they meet in Cardiff.


Related Northern Ireland News Stories
Click here for the latest headlines.

03 January 2007
Former UUP MP dies aged 81
Former Ulster Unionist MP Cecil Walker has died today after suffering a heart attack. The MP for north Belfast between 1983 and 2001, Sir Cecil lost his seat to the DUP's Nigel Dodds. Ulster Unionist Party Leader Sir Reg Empey said: “I would like to extend my deepest condolences to the Walker family at this sad time.
15 February 2013
John McCallister Quits UUP
The Ulster Unionist Party’s Basil McCrea and deputy leader John McCallister are to resign. The decisions are in protest at the UUP and DUP’s decision to back a joint candidate for the Mid Ulster by-election on 7 March. The seat has become open following the stepping-down of deputy First Minister, Sinn Féin’s Martin McGuinness.
04 March 2002
DUP leads assembly motion to exclude Sinn Féin
The Democratic Unionist Party has led a motion called for the republican party Sinn Féin to be excluded from the Northern Ireland executive for a year. The motion, which has gathered 30 signatures from anti-agreement unionists, is to be debated at a special session on Wednesday March 6.
19 January 2012
UUP Respond To Call For 'United-Unionism'
The Leader of the Ulster Unionist Party has spoken about proposals for a single unionist party in Northern Ireland saying that it will not necessarily increase unionism political power.
22 July 2002
Violence threatens stability of executive
After weeks of mounting violence across Northern Ireland, the future of the executive seems close to collapse as advocates of the Good Friday agreement remain at loggerheads over the state of paramilitary ceasefires.