Northern Ireland

DUP's William Hay returned as NI Assembly speaker

Willie Hay
Image caption Willie Hay was elected to the post of Assembly speaker on Thursday

The DUP's William Hay has been returned to the post of speaker of the Northern Ireland Assembly.

Mr Hay was proposed by the Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness and seconded by the First Minister Peter Robinson.

Sinn Fein's Francie Molloy, Roy Beggs from the UUP and the SDLP's John Dallat were all elected as deputy speakers.

The First and Deputy First Ministers Peter Robinson and Martin McGuinness have been reaffirmed in their jobs.

When asked by the "Father of the House", Sam Gardiner, Mr Hay said: "Yes, I accept."

BBC NI's political editor Mark Devenport said a deal had been struck between the DUP and Sinn Fein over the speaker's job.

"The job is going to go to William Hay, but it looks like he won't actually be performing that role for the entire period of this assembly," he said.

"Instead maybe three years down the track, he is likely to step aside and there's likely to be a rotation, so that Sinn Fein, probably Francie Molloy, can come in and take that job.

"That would be the DUP honouring a past promise from Ian Paisley that they would support a nationalist for this job."

New faces

It took about an hour to complete the formal registration process of signing in the new MLAs on Thursday morning.

There are some new faces taking their seats at Stormont for the first time.

Among them are the DUP's Pam Lewis, Sinn Fein's Sean Lynch, Ulster Unionist Joanne Dobson, the SDLP's Colum Eastwood and Judith Cochrane from the Alliance Party.

The TUV's Jim Allister, a staunch critic of the system, has also formally taken up his post.

There are 38 DUP members, 29 Sinn Fein, 16 Ulster Unionists, 14 SDLP and eight Alliance.

Steven Agnew took up the sole position for Green Party, while David McClarty remains an Independent.

Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams, now a TD (member of the Irish parliament), watched the proceedings from the visitors' gallery.

The names of the MLAs who will sit in the executive and what jobs they will do will not be known until next Monday.