Vicki Hawthorne: Not so many fresh faces at Stormont after gruelling election

Sinn Fein parade new MLAs at Stormont. Pic: Presseye
Sinn Fein's newly elected MLAs. Credit: Pressye

The two big winners of the Assembly election have had their new MLAs on parade at Stormont. For Alliance there are plenty of new faces, although a bit like the media not everyone is feeling fresh after the marathon weekend counting of votes. It's understood there were a series of Alliance celebrations on Saturday night into the small hours of Sunday morning.

Alliance party leader Naomi Long joined her 16 other MLAs for a photograph in the Great Hall on Monday morning. Her party has almost doubled its seats in the chamber. Mrs Long told the waiting media, "We're going to see a functioning Assembly hopefully pretty soon - that will be the easier part of all of this - but to get a functioning Executive we need the DUP to step up to the plate. With power comes responsibility, and people now need to take the responsibility seriously."

A smiling and confident looking Sinn Fein vice president Michelle O'Neill walked her new MLA team onto the steps outside Parliament Buildings.

It is now 27 MLAs strong, making it the largest party at Stormont for the first time. The party stood for pictures and selfies on the steps before heading for a private party meeting.

The parties are having their own meetings, as well as a leaders meeting the Secretary of State Brandon Lewis. It's thought we will hear from all the parties before the end of the day. The DUP has already said it won't nominate a deputy first minister until there is "decisive action" on the protocol. In the meantime there are new and returning MLAs enjoying their first day at work.

It should be a busy week. With inductions and signing of the register for MLAs.

There should be a full sitting of the new assembly, possibly on Friday.

That's when we will find out if there is any chance of a first minister and deputy first minister being nominated to begin forming an Executive. If not, the shine of this new assembly will start to rub off.

Northern Ireland Assembly Election 2022 results centre