Sinn Fein call for Northern Ireland Executive to be formed after election success

Sinn Fein's Michelle O'Neill has said there should be no delay in nominating first ministers and reforming the Northern Ireland Executive after her party's success in the Northern Ireland Assembly election.

The Mid Ulster MLA and former deputy first minister topped her own constituency poll and was elected on the first count.

In her acceptance speech she said there was "space in this state for everyone, all of us together" and pledged to work for all.

The former health minister said that the electorate wanted politicians to get working on solving everyday issues, such as waiting lists and the rising cost of living.

"And that's the reason why on Monday we must all turn up together," Ms O'Neill said.

"That's the reason why on Monday, there is an urgency to restore an Executive and start putting money back in people's pockets, to start to fix the health service. The people can't wait.

"I will lead my team to Stormont on Monday. The people have told us during the course of this election that they expect us to work together. The people are right."

The DUP leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson has said his party can not re-enter the Executive until the issues around the Northern Ireland Protocol were resolved.

Sinn Fein topped the poll with a 1.1% change on 2017. It went from 224,225 votes in 2017 to 250,388 votes.

Sinn Fein president said the party's success was the outcome of a "positive and successful" campaign.

"It is clear our vote has surged," she told the press at the Magherafelt count centre.

She said she was looking forward to seeing her team back at work in the Assembly on Monday and Michelle O'Neill nominated for first minister.

"We are there to do the business, we need a functioning Executive," she continued.

"We are aware people are struggling, they need relief, they need breathing space, we need to distribute the £330million that has been lain dormant. We want to get that into people's pockets.

"But above all else we want a politics that is about partnership, that is about fair play.

"There us no appetite for political posturing, for gamesmanship. We need good government and we need the kind of leadership that my friend and colleague Michelle O'Neill will bring in spades."

She added: "This is a time for grown up sensible politics... the idea people would stand on the sidelines in a cost-of-living crisis and allow people to struggle and struggle badly for us is unthinkable.

"We would appeal to everybody to take stock and take breadth for the huge responsibility is on us all."