NI Assembly election: Parties discuss ministries

Peter Robinson and Martin McGuinness Peter Robinson and Martin McGuinness met to discuss the make-up of the new executive

It is understood Peter Robinson and Martin McGuinness met on Monday afternoon to discuss the next steps towards the formation of an executive.

Sources told the BBC that the DUP and Sinn Fein are keen to try to fill ministerial positions on Thursday.

However, it is believed Mr Robinson wants to have a round-table meeting with all the Stormont party leaders.

The DUP and Sinn Fein won the most seats in Thursday's NI Assembly election with 38 and 29 respectively.

Mr Robinson dedicated his party's victory to Ronan Kerr, the PSNI constable who was murdered by dissident republican terrorists in Omagh last month.

The spotlight since the election has been on the Ulster Unionists, who are one MLA short of being able to claim two ministries in the power-sharing cabinet.

It is understood they are trying to tempt a successful independent candidate back into the fold.

David McClarty, who left the UUP following a row with his local constituency party, will not be drawn on whether he will return.

Analysis

The DUP are staying on four ministries and they will have first choice, third choice, seventh and ninth choice.

Sinn Fein with three ministries have second, fifth and eighth choice.

The Ulster Unionists have one ministry and they have the fourth choice. The SDLP have the sixth choice.

Alliance has the tenth choice providing there is not a huge legal wrangle.

The speculation is that the Ulster Unionists might try and recruit David McClarty their former member. If that were to happen it could have implications for whether the Ulster Unionists got another ministry.

Responding to UUP leader Tom Elliott's description of Sinn Fein as 'scum' at an election count in Omagh, Mr McClarty said that it was not indicative of the kind of "progressive unionism" he believed in.

However, Mr McClarty said he had not discussed that issue with Mr Elliott during "amicable talks" on Sunday evening.

In the last assembly, Alliance held the justice portfolio following a cross-community vote procedure introduced in the Hillsborough Agreement.

If Mr McClarty is not attracted back into the UUP fold, the figures suggest Alliance could be entitled to a ministry by right.

It raises the prospect of the UUP, on 16 assembly seats, having one executive ministry while Alliance, with eight seats, could have two.

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