In an election special, Mark Carruthers is joined by politicians and commentators to review the latest results and analyse the impact on the next assembly.
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Hello, and welcome to a specially extended Sunday Politics.
Stormont's benches have now all been filled.
The 100 MLAs have been returned.
It's been a great result for the DUP
and its leader Arlene Foster in particular.
Sinn Fein dropped a seat, but remains the second biggest party.
There are some new faces, some very familiar faces,
and there have been a few shocks and surprises as well.
Over the next hour and a quarter,
I'll be asking the main parties where it went right,
or in some cases wrong,
and what it will mean for the next five years.
What departments will they choose in this smaller Executive
or will they prefer to peel away and form an opposition?
I'll be talking to some of the surprises of this election -
People Before Profit's veteran campaigner, Eamonn McCann,
and the leader of the Greens, Steven Agnew,
who has doubled his party's representation at Stormont.
And with their thoughts on all of that and more,
Fionnuala O Connor, Alex Kane,
and our political editor, Mark Devenport.
Well, going into the election, there were 276 candidates.
Over the course of two days of counting,
that was whittled down to the 100 successful MLAs.
The last result came just after 4 o'clock yesterday afternoon,
and in a three-way fight for the fifth and sixth seats,
Sinn Fein's Catherine Seeley and John O'Dowd
pipped the SDLP's Dolores Kelly at the post in Upper Bann.
So how will the new Assembly look?
Well, in many ways,
it won't be very different from 2011.
The DUP remains the biggest party
on 38 seats,
and Arlene Foster will remain
as First Minister.
Sinn Fein dropped one seat
but remains the second largest party on 28,
and will take
the Deputy First Minister's role.
The Ulster Unionists are on the 16
they achieved in 2011,
while the SDLP is down 2 seats at 12.
Alliance held on
to its eight from five years ago.
The Greens saw their numbers double
from one to two,
while People Before Profit
makes its debut at Stormont,
also with two.
Jim Allister is back,
but remains a solo operator for the TUV.
The independent Claire Sugden
also makes a return.
Let's hear from some of the parties who will be bringing new faces
to the green benches at Stormont.
Firstly, not exactly a new face, you might say,
the veteran campaigner Eamonn McCann of People Before Profit
is in our Foyle studio.
The Green Party leader Steven Agnew,
who now has the party's deputy leader Clare Bailey
joining him on the hill.
Welcome to both of you.
Let me just talk to you, first of all, Steven Agnew.
We'd hope we might get a chance to talk to Clare Bailey,
but I think she's done so much talking
over the last couple of days she's got a bit of a bad throat
this morning, so I hope she makes a speedy recovery, because presumably
she'll be wanting to make her voice heard in the Assembly Chamber.
But two is good. Three, of course, would have been better.
You did say to me on this programme a couple of weeks ago
you would be disappointed if you didn't come back with three.
So there's a bit of happiness and a bit of disappointment.
Well, we're absolutely delighted for Clare Bailey.
It's been a tremendous result for the Greens across the board
with the largest increase in vote of any party in this election.
So, overall, the Greens are celebrating.
But, of course, I am disappointed for Ross Brown.
He came seventh in a six-seat constituency. He came very close.
We were right to say that we could get three seats,
because we almost did,
but that's something for us to build on in the future.
But, overall, we've doubled our number of MLAs,
we've increased our vote across Northern Ireland
and, indeed, it was the highest vote we've ever had
across Northern Ireland in terms of vote number.
So, overall, a successful election.
You, you, of course,
came second in terms of first-preference
votes in your constituency of North Down,
which was a personal success from your point of view,
-cos I think you came home with the sixth seat last time.
Clare Bailey in South Belfast, why do you think in a constituency...?
It was quite a diverse constituency, yes, but it is leafy South Belfast,
it's very often how people describe it in shorthand.
How do you think a Green candidate there,
who is clearly left of centre, managed to secure a seat?
Well, while others prevaricated on issues such as equal marriage
and abortion, the Greens, and Clare Bailey in particular,
articulated a very clear vision.
We're pro equal marriage, we're pro abortion reform,
ad that message went down well in South Belfast.
Plus, Clare is a tremendous campaigner.
She's been working in the constituency for many years.
She's had two near-misses in previous elections,
but she's been persistent and kept coming back to the electorate,
kept working hard, and has got the result she deserved.
She didn't have to fight for the final seat.
She took the fourth seat, and I think that's worth noting,
that she came home quite comfortably in the end.
OK, Eamonn McCann, first of all, congratulations to you.
We spoke a couple of days ago and you were confident,
but you hadn't been confirmed.
You've been at this game since 1969 -
I think that was the first time you stood for election.
So, at last, at the age of 73, you're inside the Stormont tent,
which for so many years you've of course been an arch critic of.
Well, I've been an arch critic of the policies
coming out of Stormont and the policies coming out
of an awful lot of other parliamentary institutions
across the water and in an even more wide scale.
I mean, I've argued for that attitude,
and eventually we got a quota.
To be honest, this is just a statement of the obvious, isn't it?
What's going to be your motivation up at Stormont?
What are you hoping you're going to be able to achieve?
You're there and you've got Gerry Carroll for West Belfast,
so there are two of you.
You're not a lone voice, but do you think that you will be able
to have an impact on policy issues?
Do you hope that you'll seriously be able to hold
the Executive to account?
Well, we'll certainly be able to hold the Executive to account,
to the extent that Stormont rules and procedures allow that to happen.
We will bring into Stormont the ideas and the attitudes
of the policies that we have been proclaiming,
that I've been proclaiming for, certainly, a very long time.
I think the most important thing that we bring
and, in our estimation, the most important thing about the election -
People Before Profit candidates -
is that we stood on a clear basis of being neither orange nor green.
We did something the people kept telling us
it was not possible to do -
that in Northern Ireland you either have to be deep green or deep orange
or some muddy mulch in the middle.
We offered a radical political alternative
to the politics of orange versus green.
I think there was, to use a crude term, a market for that attitude.
I think many people were...
And we pulled votes from a much wider range of people than
we ever have before in Derry.
Our vote was certainly the youngest vote that there was
in this constituency, loads of first time voters.
Our election team was the youngest, I would think,
that certainly I've ever been associated with.
So we will bring that sort of youthful energy and a, sort of,
radical anti-Sectarian, "neither orange nor green" attitude
to Stormont. I think that's very important.
Very important to us, anyway.
Eamonn, whenever you were deemed elected,
you just couldn't help yourself.
You revealed one of the talents that you've kept hidden for many years -
your singing voice.
Now, you took a bit of stick when you sang The Internationale
from some of our commentators on our programme yesterday.
Could you just not help yourself?
I'm not aware that I took a bit of stick from anybody.
I take your word for it.
I don't think I watched any coverage of anything yesterday.
It wasn't that I just couldn't help myself.
Look, people singing songs on platforms in Northern Ireland,
particularly after winning a seat of some sort in Parliament,
it's not unusual.
I've heard A Nation Once Again sung.
Thinking our God in ages past, or whatever it is in song,
so it's not unusual.
It's probably unusual to hear a song which doesn't
come from either the Nationalist or Unionist tradition
sung on an election platform,
or a results platform in Northern Ireland.
Maybe it was just about time.
Right. Well, I'm glad you didn't see some of the comments that there were
yesterday afternoon, because they weren't all entirely complimentary,
I have to be honest, but I think everybody took it in the spirit in which you obviously intended.
Go back and watch it on iPlayer
and you can decide who's not on your Christmas card list in future.
-I don't send Christmas cards incidentally,
-so I don't have a list. Go on.
-Right. OK. Tell me this,
how do you think you're going to work with people like Steven Agnew
in what's now being referred to not as the naughty corner,
but as the noisy corner?
Well, for a start, I don't deal in phrases like naughty corner
and noisy corner. That is to infantilise politics
in Northern Ireland and commentators who use that phrase simply have
nothing better to say.
Certainly I would envisage that we can work well
with Steven and the Greens.
Again, they approached the election saying -
though they couldn't use our phrase, I suppose -
"Neither Orange nor Green,"
but on the same basis as far as that's concerned.
We have also incorporated,
contributing here in the Foyle area on environmental campaigns
and are doing that at the moment in relation to a whole
series of possible potential environmental catastrophes here,
so we disagree on other things, of course,
but I think that there could be a working relationship there.
I hope there will be.
I know Steven a little and I've never had any rows with him,
so I think the people who are...
The main reason why I think that the attitude of neither Orange
nor Green can be brought into the Assembly
and can have a real effect is that there's a hunger for it.
I've knocked on doors and said my opening little mantra,
"I'm from People Before Profit. We are neither Orange nor Green,
"will you vote for us?" The reaction to that was absolutely striking.
People in all areas... I sort of stood back a little bit.
This is a typical reaction.
I stood back a little bit and they said, "Tell me more,"
or words to the effect of, "At last," or, "Are you serious?" Or, "Can you do it?"
Or "Have you any hope of getting elected on this basis?"
Very few people said to us, "Well, actually, we're Nationalists,
"we're Unionists, we can't support you."
I think that this is an idea whose time has come.
The main reason why there are not bigger political formations
based on the type of approach that I'm outlining here is simply
that people have thought, until now, that it just won't work,
that you can't get elected on that basis,
that it's just futile rhetoric to talk like that.
Well, it's not futile rhetoric and hope people in other
constituencies learn the message. You're sitting there wondering
and complaining, or phoning into Mr Nolan or somebody, and say,
"Isn't it terrible that we only have these Nationalists
"and Unionists fighting with one another
"in permanent deadlock seemingly."
OK, you don't have to accept that.
I mean, go out and support candidates who are there
and choose between which non-sectarian anti-Orange,
Green candidates are available to you.
OK, I want to bring Steven in a second,
but very quickly, you just touched on a point about working
relationships with the Greens and so forth. You may have to
develop at short notice a working relationship with Jim Allister
who's another oppositional voice from the TUV.
Do you think you can build some kind of relationship with him, because
there wouldn't be too many common areas on the policy front, I'd have
thought, between People Before Profit
and traditional Unionist voice?
Well, you've just said it yourself.
I mean, there are very few areas of an overlap of policy
and that surely is the key thing.
Certified numbers and procedures at Stormont or anywhere else
don't affect political principles. I think there would be a wide range
-But are you looking forward to working with
Jim Allister? Are you looking forward to having a cup of tea with
him, a conversation next week at Stormont?
I'll be happy to have a cup of tea with almost anybody.
I hope there'd be no personal animosities or anything like that.
I would like to think that I have relatively genial
relationships with people of very different political views.
I've not had a conversation with Mr Allister in my life,
-but I'd talk to anybody.
Steven, you have had to develop some kind of relationship
with Jim Allister and again, there wouldn't be terribly many
common areas in terms of policy.
What kind of relationship are you hoping you're going to build with
Eamonn McCann and Gerry Carroll?
I recall an interview with Eamonn on Heart and Minds
when he was asked why, in a European election,
the Greens and, as they were then, the Socialist Environmental Alliance
why we weren't standing together
and he said traditionally the Greens and Reds have marched together,
and we have been in trade union rallies with Eamonn
and I've fought many causes along with Eamonn. As he's pointed out
we've worked closely on some of the environmental issues
in the north west, not least the largest illegal waste dump at Mobuoy,
but the reality are we are separate parties.
We will work together where we share policy and when we disagree,
I will argue with Eamonn as much as anyone else,
because I believe in the policies of the Green Party.
Do you think that that corner, that oppositional corner now in Stormont -
and I don't know if the seating arrangements are going to stay
the same or not, but whatever about it, there are going to be six people
somewhere who are not in the five main parties -
do you think that the make up as it will be from tomorrow has
a serious opportunity, a serious possibility to make a difference
and to actually hold the Executive, whatever it looks like, to account?
I was one Green MLA in the last Assembly and I feel I did make an effective difference.
I called Sinn Fein out
when they said no-one would be worse off on their welfare reform.
I proposed the first-ever motion on marriage equality
and led the way in that issue
when other parties didn't want to talk about it
and, of course, I brought forward my own children's bill
and I've changed the law around children's services,
something that the children's sector campaigned for since 2007.
So that's what we were able to do with one Green MLA.
We've now got two green MLAs and I'm confident that
we can be even more effective in the Assembly and show a distinctive
-voice, an alternative voice to the five traditional parties.
Well, we look forward to hearing what you have to say over
the next five years. Eamonn McCann in Derry, thanks very much indeed.
Steven Agnew, thank you very much as well.
Let's hear then from my commentators Fionnuala, Alex and Mark.
Welcome to all of you.
Fionnuala, first of all, looking at the wider picture, do you think that
Sinn Fein in particular has been spooked by the threat from the left?
I feel I should say first in the spirit that Eamonn just
introduced that here I am answering the Green question and
Alex, in a moment, will be answering the Orange question,
but we mustn't upset the running order.
They were, of course, spooked and they've been spooked in advance.
They were managing expectations downward from quite some time ago
and as someone else on air, it was heard on the doorsteps,
"Will you give us your number two preference in West Belfast?"
Because they knew Gerry Carroll was going to get the first one.
The first top in the poll, as other people have pointed out, is
a bit of an illusory victory in one sense.
Sinn Fein, of course, were going to manage their vote
and weren't going to throw it all against keeping him
off the top of the poll, but that was a psychological blow
and really it does voice the dissatisfaction
there has been for considerable time in West Belfast.
Where I differ with Eamonn and wonder what will become of them,
I wonder first of all how he will stick it in Stormont and how
boredom will not crush him.
But as Steven pointed out, he was able to achieve a considerable amount.
What I think People Before Profit will do in both West Belfast
and to a lesser extent in Foyle, where Eamonn's voice is more
familiar, is they will do what Bernie Sanders, to an extent,
has done to Hillary Clinton during this campaign.
They will try to keep them honest,
so what Sinn Fein will do now in the negotiations
before, in the next couple of weeks,
is I suspect they will re-write their already written plan for government.
OK. Don't fret there will be plenty of opportunities for you to answer
lots of different questions later in the programme,
so don't worry about that now. No, no, have no fear.
Alex, the Greens had hoped, and Steven's already talked about this point, that they had
hoped to get three home in this election and Ross Brown wasn't successful in East Belfast,
but do you think there is an opportunity for the Green Party to grow in future elections...
-from this base?
-I think there is, partly because they surprised us.
Steven was telling me that, no, they'd be
lucky to get the one, they've proved
and if you look at what happened to South Belfast and also East Belfast,
they're picking up votes from soft unionism as well.
People who you would've thought would have gone to the
Ulster Unionists party, maybe an uncomfortable alliance,
significant numbers of them, in the sense that they made
a difference in pushing candidates over the line, went to the Greens.
That again tells you something. It's part of this ongoing process
of how long it's going to take Northern Ireland to ever get to what we could call normal politics,
but as I've said for some time, there's something happening in the undergrowth. People
are looking and they're thinking, "That's not quite the option for me. I'll give this a go,"
and I think the very fact that you've got two seats, you put your
vote up, next time round people go, "Actually, they did OK last time."
What about relationships?
You heard a little bit there from Eamonn and from Steven about how
different parties, some of the smaller parties might relate to each other.
How do you think Eamonn McCann will get on with Jim Allister, realistically?
You know both of them pretty well?
Eamonn McCann gets on, as he was saying there in the interview,
very well with people across a broad range.
He's a great talker and raconteur and I think that Jim Allister will
at least share with Eamonn McCann a love of plain speaking and rhetoric.
They might have a shared interest in terms of the Stormont
tradecraft, how you work the machine in terms of which
committees you get on in order to have your voice heard, so at
that level... That said,
at the level of principle they couldn't be further apart.
Jim Allister's first act has been to point out that with
the loss of John McCallister
and Basil McCrea that the balance of power has shifted at Stormont
and in relation to the flag over the building, he's saying
Unionists now have the votes to push this through,
so that's a very different kind of first act from anything which
either Steven Agnew or Eamonn McCann or Gerry Carroll would go for.
So there will be a divergence,
but I wouldn't have thought that they'd have
a particularly difficult relationship because, as I say,
Eamonn has the ability to get on with a lot of people
and I think Jim Allister will at least appreciate the fact
that Eamonn can stand up without a note
and I hope that this will be true of many more MLAs in this chamber
and just speak their mind and keep it on point and on message.
Alex, do you want a quick word just before we move on?
The interesting thing, Jim has added... For the past
four, five years, Jim has had it all to himself
in terms in oratorical skill. The man that everyone listens to
because he always says something interesting.
Being challenged now by Eamonn McCann,
having someone there who is as good on his feet, I think
the dynamics between those two in terms of who the media will
hone in on, who they will get the most coverage from...
And it might make Jim up his game,
stop constantly complaining about the DUP
and actually begin to think, "OK, Eamonn's offering something
"slightly different here. I'm back by myself.
"I can't do the same thing for another five years, just whinge.
"I need to do something different."
Just on the dynamic, Steven mentioned it, what
he thought had benefited Clare Bailey and was part of her appeal in
South Belfast and part of the Greens' appeal
and will be part of People Before Profit's contribution, there is
the question of abortion rights, there is
the continuing agony of many women and girls taking pills off the net.
That is not going to go away.
Clare Bailey partly, I think, her vote, nobody would doubt was
due to her honesty and decency on that subject and People
For Profit will be sticking to that, will be pushing that line to
a degree as well, so there will be support for Steven who has
fought the lone fight and that will continue to develop a new
social dynamic inside the Assembly as well.
And that's something we may develop a little later bit later
and obviously other people take a very different perspective on things.
The other issue on which these four will be interesting to watch
will be corporation tax, because all the big parties are signed up
to that, but we're now getting to implementation, which means
cutting a budget in order to allow it to happen and I suspect
that the Greens and People Before Profit will be honing in on that.
We'll develop all of those issues a little bit later in the programme.
For now, thanks very much indeed.
In a moment I'll be talking to representatives from the main
parties, but first our political correspondent Stephen Walker
examines what key questions the election results present
and be warned there is some flash photography in his report.
So the election is over and the counting centres
and the television sets are being dismantled.
We now have the results but we also have a series of questions.
Why is it that the DUP and Sinn Fein are the two largest parties?
Why is it that the SDLP
and the Ulster Unionists failed to make an impact?
And now we know the Stormont arithmetic,
is it time for an official opposition?
The DUP are delighted with their results
and their strategy of effectively making this
a referendum on who should be First Minister clearly paid off.
The DUP is now perhaps being seen as the party of government at Stormont.
Perhaps that's what the average rank and file Unionist is beginning to think.
In other words, the Ulster Unionist Party might continue to do well,
might even become... The protest votes might become Westminster,
which used to be the big election. It might become council elections,
it might become Euro elections.
But the DUP seems perhaps to be
being seen as the party of government in Northern Ireland.
Sinn Fein are the second-largest party but their vote fell and
they lost key figures like Rosie Mccauley in West Belfast,
Maeve McLaughlin in Foyle and Phil Flanagan in Fermanagh South Tyrone.
Questions are now being raised about their tactics.
Rosie Mccauley I know had been tipped, you know,
as a rising star within the party. Maeve McLaughlin, Health Committee,
quite a high profile politician, so that won't play out
well and I think that's quite a disappointment for them,
and what we have seen for a party that is
known for its discipline, known for its strict photo management
is that in a few constituencies, there have been a few upsets,
so Fermanagh South Tyrone's mess of a selection process has come
back to bite them.
They've lost a seat there to the SDLP, that won't play out well.
For the SDLP it's been a painful few days. Dolores Kelly lost
her seat, as did deputy leader Ferghal McKinney.
I think it has been a very poor election result.
They're losing parts of their heartlands,
so, for example, South Belfast, which was always strong for them,
losing their deputy leader there, also Foyle, again which was
the city of the SDLP, it was the John Hume territory.
To lose their third seat there is incredibly difficult
and also the problem for many SDLP candidates is
they're coming in on those final seats,
but of course at the next Assembly election,
there will be less seats to go around, so that does cause
some problems and does put the future of the party into question.
Going down to roughly 11 seats is pretty much alliance of the SDLP.
For the UUP it's been a difficult time.
Their candidate Jenny Palmer took a seat from the DUP in Lagan Valley,
but that was a rare victory.
Mike Nesbitt wrote himself a letter before the election
predicting the outcome and its contents were revealed on the BBC.
I'm going to formally open this now, OK?
And you posted this and then
you put this in your desk, did you? Right.
The Ulster Unionists must now examine why
they failed to win more seats?
I think that we all had wrongly predicted that there would be
a resurgence of votes for the Ulster Unionists and there isn't
and I think there's a very simple reason for that.
Mike Nesbitt's message was quite mixed, it was quite muddled.
In some ways he tried to appeal to the middle ground, in some ways
he tried to play to the hard line. I don't think that quite worked,
whereas the DUP had a very direct message.
It was keep Arlene as First Minister,
it was vote for the union.
The Alliance Party
retained their number of Stormont seats, but their vote fell.
I think they'll be very disappointed,
although they'll be delighted to hold on to those eight seats,
but to a certain extent, it was more by luck than anything else.
They're not as healthy as they were in 2011.
It was a good election for some of the smaller parties with
the Greens and People Before Profit making gains.
New faces like Eamonn McCann, Gerry Carroll and Clare Bailey will add
a new dimension to the Assembly's much-publicised naughty corner.
There's a lot of talk about how Eamonn McCann will slot in.
He's not an establishment figure, let's face it.
He's not one for rules and regulations,
so I think that will make for interesting viewing.
We already had Jim Allister as a one-man opposition.
Now we have his political polar opposite in Eamonn McCann,
but also someone who's likely to make a few waves.
So now that all the results are in, what happens next?
Some observers say the Ulster Unionists
and the SDLP must consider opposition.
There's very little to be gained in a smaller executive for the UUP
and the SDLP to go into it, because at the same time, you're going
to have a bolstered DUP and you're going to have a Sinn Fein that's going to be hunkering down,
so there's going to be very little in it for the DUP and Sinn Fein to
really kick any decent breadcrumbs towards the SDLP or the UUP.
When the official function is there now for opposition, it would
be madness if they didn't take it up.
In the days ahead, talks about a programme for government will
dominate the political agenda. The electorate have made their decision.
Now the class of 2016 have some key decisions of their own to make.
Stephen Walker rounding up the weekend's events for us there.
All of the five main parties saw their share of the vote drop.
We'll hear from them in just a moment.
Let's take a look at that share though.
The DUP is out in front with just over 29%.
Sinn Fein is on 24%. The Ulster Unionists on 12.6.
The SDLP just behind on 12 and Alliance on 7%.
Let's compare that to 2011.
We can see they've all dropped, in fact, some more than others.
With me now to discuss that and other issues
are the Ulster Unionist Party's Christopher Stalford,
Sinn Fein's John O'Dowd,
Naomi Long from the Alliance Party,
the Ulster Unionist Robin Swann
and Nichola Mallon from the SDLP.
So, welcome to all of you,
we've got plenty of time to talk about what happened
over the campaign -
what went right, what went wrong and to look to the future
and how that might shape up.
Christopher Stalford first of all.
The DUP campaign seems to have chimed with a lot of voters,
does that mean, from where you're sitting,
the DUP now speaks for Unionism?
Yes, we do.
I'm delighted with the result party has had.
To have polled over 200,000 votes
is the first time we've been over 200,000 votes
across Northern Ireland since 2007.
I think there are a couple of people who must be thanked for the result,
particularly our director of elections, Nigel Dodds.
He ran an absolutely tight ship,
and I'm delighted with the result the party has achieved
in this election, it's a mandate to endorse the vision
that was outlined by our leader, Arlene Foster...
-It was all about Arlene.
-Well, Arlene was the leader of our party
and was very much front and centre of our campaign,
and I think the result we have got
reflects the huge support there is in the country
for her continuing to be the First Minister of Northern Ireland.
So that's the positive side. But as we said in the introduction,
it is worth noting that all the main parties' votes are down.
The DUP by almost 1%. Second Assembly drop in a row for the DUP.
What does that say about voter disengagement?
We went into this election with 38 seats.
All of the commentators - all - said we would drop seats.
-They said you might.
-Well, we came back with 38 seats.
After ten years in government as the lead party in government,
to come back with the same number of seats that we got five years ago
is a tremendous achievement.
To be over 200,000 votes for the first time since 2007
is also a great achievement.
Let's not be begrudging. We had a good election.
It was a good result and it is a mandate
for Arlene to take forward the vision that she outlined
for the next five years.
OK. John O'Dowd, Would you say it was a good seat for Sinn Fein?
You're down a seat, you're down 2.9%.
Well, we are a party in government, as Christopher said,
most of the parties round the table have been active in government
for ten years and in leadership positions for ten years.
I suspect, if you look across Western Europe,
many parties in government for that length of time
during one of the worst recessions to hit the global economy,
would be delighted to be able to return the vast majority
of their MLAs and hold on, largely, to the percentage of their vote.
Quite frankly, I'm more interested in what happens next.
The election is over.
It's a very important event in any democratic society,
but what we now need to do is knuckle down and get the programme
for government sorted out and start delivering services for society.
Start making the positive changes that are required in our society
and tackle the huge challenges
that are in front of us in the months and years ahead.
But there are lessons that you have to learn.
Gerry Kelly was sitting where you are sitting now, yesterday,
and he said we will have an inquiry
into what went wrong in our campaign,
and ask some serious questions.
Because it didn't all go according to plan - in Foyle, Fermanagh
and South Tyrone, West Belfast,
Upper Bann, you know, you and Cat Seeley squeezed home
and squeezed Dolores Kelly out at the end,
but it looked at one stage like you could not deliver what you hoped.
-You could have lost out.
Well, let's start in reverse order.
PR elections are not about topping the poll.
PR elections are about winning seats,
that's what we achieved in Upper Bann.
You use the term, inquiry, review, whatever you wish to use.
Every political party around this table
will review their results and how they fought this election.
I do believe we have to look at what we achieved in Upper Bann
and how we can replicate that in other areas.
It's not about romping home in the first count,
it's not about topping the poll, it's about winning seats.
Yeah. But you didn't win a third seat in Foyle
and you brought your party leader home from Mid Ulster
to take a third seat.
He took a seat. Maeve McLaughlin doesn't have a job tomorrow.
Well...it is a huge loss for the party losing Maeve McLaughlin.
-Phil Flanagan doesn't have a job.
-As an MLA...
Maeve McLaughlin will continue to be a Sinn Fein activist,
campaigner and worker.
-And the same for other candidates who lost out?
-Rosie McCorley... Yes.
-I'm sure they'd rather be an MLA?
-Of course they would.
The same as if John O'Dowd had lost his seat yesterday,
we as Sinn Fein activists put ourselves forward
to represent the party
and we take the chances and risks of electoral politics.
Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose.
But what we will still continue to do
is put forward a radical alternative
in terms of our policies and politics.
We will stand by our manifesto commitments.
We fought on the basis that we were going into government.
Others fought on the basis that we might be opposition,
we might go into government, we're not sure what we're going to go.
We are going into government.
Right. Robin Swann, Mike Nesbitt sat here yesterday
and put his hands up and said that this election campaign
from an Ulster Unionist perspective was not a success.
Your share is down -
but critically you did not grow the number of seats.
You had 16 in 2011, you have 16 in 2016.
Well, we had 13 in the last Assembly, we've now 16.
We took back the seats that we lost through defections.
And we had a couple of close misses.
Even he did not try to make that point yesterday,
he conceded the fact that you got 16 in 2011, you got 16 in 2016.
I'm not going to argue, but we had a couple of close misses.
We made mistakes. We will learn from them.
-What were those mistakes?
-There was a number of vote management issues
we'll look at seriously.
You think it's vote management rather than...
explaining to the electorate
precisely what the Ulster Unionist Party stands for?
We heard from a lot of people yesterday
that it was a lack of a simple, straightforward,
clear message that cost the Ulster Unionist Party that growth
and was the reason for the success of the DUP.
We were fighting Project Fear, Arlene or Martin.
That's the message we were continually fighting on the doors.
It was a hard message to fight against.
No matter what detail in policy we put forward,
-it was all about Arlene.
-It was very successful.
-Can I respond?
Listen, we'll come back to you about it in a moment or two.
I know you'll not accept it but it is a bit of a lame excuse.
The others were better than us and they confused people?
It's your job as a politician to get a clear, simple message
out there to inspire the electorate, and you failed to do that.
They don't know what you represent, are you progressive or hardline?
Hard to tell.
We are a progressive party and we put forward progressive policies.
Not progressive when you pulled out of the Executive on
the issue of trusting Sinn Fein and the DUP stayed there.
That was the risk we took
and what we thought was right to do at that stage.
-And on reflection, was it wrong?
It was the right thing to do at that stage.
We'll enter the discussions for a programme for government
and we'll see if those round the table
are putting forward a progressive programme...
So you are not clear at this moment
whether you will be inside or outside the tent?
We're going into negotiations, Mark. It's made clear by any
opposition person you have questioned including Mike Nesbitt.
We're not going to walk away from the programme
for government discussions.
We'll go in and see if we trust the people around the table
and see if it is a progressive forward-thinking programme
for government for Northern Ireland.
-And we'll make a judgment if we can trust the others.
Nichola Mallon, where is the SDLP in all of this?
You can't argue that it was anything other than a disappointing election.
You had a new leader, you promised a great deal
and you go back two seats down on 2011.
It is always painful to lose MLAs.
I personally know Dolores and Gerard and Fearghal.
I'm not going to spin things,
we're very disappointed at losing those seats.
But in saying that, we have increased our vote
in a number of places.
18 of our 24 candidates were brand-new.
We have a new leader in post a couple of months
and we are undergoing significant renewal and change.
Rome wasn't built in a day.
We'll take a hard look at our election results -
but we have a new team and we are energised
and looking forward to being up in the Assembly.
Yeah. It's the worst SDLP result in terms of vote share ever
and in terms of Assembly representation.
As you said, all the main parties
have experienced a decline in their vote.
In North Belfast, in a lower turnout,
I increased the percentage on the actual vote.
We worked hard and we had losses in other areas
but in South Antrim, Roisin Lynch put in a very good fight.
She put the leader of the Alliance Party under pressure.
Connor Duncan in North Antrim put in a good fight too.
We need to build on that.
Where was the Colum Eastwood bounce? You should've done better
and had the wind in your backs with a new leader, should you not?
Certainly in the doors of North Belfast,
people were commenting on Colum Eastwood and recognising
that we are undergoing change,
that we see a significant change in the age of the people
coming into leadership positions in the SDLP.
So I know from speaking to people in North Belfast
that Colum was a factor, and for me it was a positive factor.
Yeah. Just look at where the SDLP has gone since 1998.
Back then, the year of the Good Friday Agreement,
178,000 votes. You topped the league table of all parties
in terms of the popular vote, 178,000 votes in 1998.
2016, 83,000. You have lost nearly 100,000 votes in 18 years.
Yes, and we have to change it, and we are determined to...
You didn't start to change it in this election.
In North Belfast,
we started to change it and in other constituencies.
But as I said, Rome wasn't built in a day,
and as a party undergoing significant change,
we'll need time to do that.
We said that to the voters,
and had honest conversations with voters on the doorstep.
OK. Naomi Long, not a great election
from the Alliance Party's perspective.
You had 8 and you have 8.
Yes, a different eight, which is important,
because we've new people in and we have refreshed the team.
It's always difficult,
when you look at people like Kieran McCarthy, Anna Lo,
who are real characters and big figures in their constituencies
and they are hard to replace.
So we've managed to do that and held our ground.
We did not make some of the gains we would've liked,
but we were runner-up in two constituencies
and within a couple of hundred votes
of gaining seats in others. So in many ways,
the strategy worked, in that we put the effort into those constituencies
where we thought gains were possible.
But we didn't have the luck on those last seats.
That happens. Some elections are lucky.
We squeezed 6 seats out of 3.7% of the vote in 2003.
I think we got all our luck we were ever going to get in that election.
We didn't have any this time around.
That's the way politics is.
But we have got our 8, we have a strengthened team
and I'm looking forward being there on Monday doing the job.
You got 8 this time round, it was a squeeze,
you got 8 more easily five years ago and there has been no growth.
Back in 1998, you had six MLAs.
In 2016, you have gone up two seats.
-There is no big breakthrough, no groundswell of opinion.
As Northern Ireland has moved on and politics has moved on,
the Alliance Party has been stuck.
No, I don't think you can say we've been stuck,
we've improved in every election.
I agree that this election has not been good in terms of vote share.
You have to look at the micro stuff.
John was talking about PR elections, we weren't out to get easy seats,
we were out to put resources into those seats
where we thought we could make gains.
Those seats did not come through on this occasion,
but the cost of investing that resource in those seats
was, for example, a drop in our vote in Lagan Valley
and a drop in our vote in David Ford's own constituency.
Because David was a leader and led from the front.
Instead of knocking doors
in South Antrim where we knew we would hold our seat,
he knocked on doors in North Belfast where we were runners-up.
I think that is how you run an election campaign.
Well, on the issue of leadership which you have raised,
I will take the invitation to discuss it,
when you look at the success of the DUP's campaign,
putting a new leader, Arlene Foster, to the fore
and look at the lack of success
in your campaign, with you sitting in the wings,
maybe - maybe, making it all about Naomi,
we'd be having a very different conversation.
Well, the Alliance Party is not a personality cult,
so let's kill that dead.
-That's not what it's about.
-Maybe it should be?
it should be about progressive politics, policy.
It's not about one individual. It's about the team that we put forward.
David has done an amazing job as leader. There's no question.
He is one of the most generous people
I know in terms of the time he gives in other constituencies...
Sure, you can say that as deputy leader, but it is what voters think.
Voters maybe don't share that view?
That may or may not be the case,
but I don't this was a referendum on David Ford's leadership.
It was about individual constituencies...
But when you sit down, Naomi, as all the parties will do,
John O'Dowd has already conceded Sinn Fein will do it,
when you sit down as a party,
quietly in a room without any fanfare,
to look at the numbers and look at where the successes were
and where the failures were -
and there were more failures than successes -
are the men in suits going to tap him on the shoulder
and say maybe now the time has come, David?
Nobody is tapping David Ford on the shoulder to ask him to go.
I am sorry this has become such an obsession.
There is a huge amount of admiration
and respect for what David has achieved over his leadership.
He has taken Alliance to places we never thought we would be.
Let's be honest, we used to not be at the table in these debates,
because we were ignored.
We were relegated into the second division.
David has brought us to the table and given us a voice.
Anyone who has not seen what David has achieved
is not looking at the whole picture.
Do you think it is the cult of Arlene, celebrity politics?
Naomi Long says we shouldn't get into that.
-I think that was a sideswipe in your direction.
-No, it wasn't.
I'm just saying that's not what politics is about,
it's about policy.
It is not a popularity contest, and it shouldn't be.
Do you think the DUP turned it into a popularity contest?
I think the DUP had a successful election,
so whether they did or didn't, it worked.
I think that is insulting to the 202,000 people
who voted for our party in this election
and who endorsed the vision outlined by our leader -
to suggest that those people are in some way foolish or sheep,
who were herded into the voting booth is an insult to people.
What do you think they voted for?
-Did they vote for DUP policy?
Robin Swann implied it.
So what were people voting for?
-For DUP policy or...
..the DUP's record or Arlene and Arlene's vision,
or were they voting for the candidates
like Christopher Stalford?
What do you think motivated them?
A combination of all of those things
motivated people to vote for our party.
Or the fear factor, as Robin Swann says?
No, the fact of the matter is that in Scotland,
the election campaign there,
Labour wanted Kezia Dugdale to be the FM,
and the SNP said they wanted Nicola Sturgeon.
What sort of party would it be...
I can understand why some parties would want to hide their leader,
but what sort of party wants to hide their leader
from being in the front line of an election campaign?
Well, who hid their leader?
Well, I think some leaders were more prominent than others.
Who are you thinking of?
I didn't see an awful lot of Mike or Colum Eastwood during the election.
-Did you not?
-Where was Mike?
-Mike was visible.
He was around the constituencies.
Coming back to the letter Arlene sent my wife,
"a vote for anyone other than the DUP candidate
"would divide and weaken the pro-Union vote
"and allow Martin McGuinness to become First Minister."
In North Antrim...
The other election broadcast was sent through North Antrim.
Showed the percentage votes of the different parties,
-30% DUP and 26.9% Sinn Fein.
-Is that accurate?
-In North Antrim...
-What's your point?
That was the communication sent to North Antrim.
If the DUP were being open and honest about what they were doing,
that was the Project Fear factor out there...
-The subliminal message...
-The percentages shown on that paper...
-So that's the dog whistling?
-Yes, it is.
You are insulting not only your own constituents...
who voted for the DUP in greater numbers
than they voted for the Ulster Unionists in North Antrim
but you are insulting the 200,000 people
-who elected to support our party in this election...
..because they believed in the vision of our party.
So, John O'Dowd, was the reference to Project Fear
an insult to Sinn Fein?
No - well, I didn't take it as an insult.
I don't like the style of politics.
I don't think it's going to work for the DUP in the years ahead.
Because there has been a shift and change in attitudes
across the electorate, I think, and I am thankful that across Upper Bann
I canvassed many areas,
and there was a Unionist voice and a Unionist vote in those areas.
I was pleasantly surprised by the reception I received on the doors.
Often in the past, you would've been chased
or people will have taken great exception
to you going to their door in the past.
Unionist electorate were willing to engage with me on the doorstep.
They put their point of view across as Unionists, but it was being done
in a way which was both amicable that we were able to share ideas
with each other and we could challenge each other,
and I don't think this fear of Sinn Fein
the DUP are promoting will work for them in the future.
People want to see the political parties working together.
Nichola, you within the SDLP
did endeavour to put your new leader forward, front and centre,
but it didn't make any difference.
As I said, round North Belfast, it made a difference.
Colum came to doors with me
and the doors I was at, people were passing comment
on the fact he was a new leader and they were liking what he was saying.
But across all 18 constituencies it didn't make the kind of difference
that you hoped it would make as you were down 2.2%,
you lost two seats in the Assembly.
He's been in post five months or so.
I believe we're starting to get a bounce,
people will see in this next Assembly
the calibre of Colum Eastwood as a leader.
But, Mark, If I could just say,
in relation to the discussion we've just had...
for me it's very simple.
The DUP tried to portray this phoney fight about who'd be top dog
and the truth is that Arlene and Martin
have to sign off on everything together.
So that was a thing I personally found insulting.
I don't know the people I spoke to personally found it insulting,
because it was a phoney fight.
Now, let me bring you in at this point.
Let's plant the past behind us, let's plant the election
and look to the future now because, I think to be fair to our viewers,
they want to hear what happens next. And the results are pretty clear
and we know who's going back to Stormont tomorrow.
The question I have, first of all for Naomi,
are you going to be part of the conversations
on the programme for government?
Because under the new executive, the bar you've got a clear,
as I understand it, to have a position in the executive
as of right, is 11. The Alliance party has eight.
If you've got eight, it may well be that the other four parties
get together in a room tomorrow to start the discussions
about the programme for government and you're outside the room.
It's the first opportunity we've had to seriously discuss this.
-That is a possibility.
-What is the state of play?
That is a possibility.
It depends whether other parties then decide that they want us
to be engaged in this discussion.
If some parties don't take their seats,
it might well fall to Alliance at some point
that we would have an entitlement.
So if other parties don't want us to be part of those negotiations,
that will be a decision they have to make.
We'll find out whether people want us
to be part of those negotiations, but no, we won't be there of right.
Which is a disappointment because we'd want to be there,
being able to influence what happens in the room.
But it depends, as I say, whether other parties will want us
to be there and be involved.
Christopher, do you have any knowledge?
Will the Alliance party be invited to those conversations or not?
With all due respect, Mark,
48 hours ago I was a councillor in Belfast City Council.
I'm now one of the most junior backbench assembly members.
-Your party has asked you to come on.
So I imagine you've had a conversation with the powers that be
and you know what the line is.
I'm sure that the view will be that as many parties as possible
should be involved in the discussions
around the programme of government,
and I'm sure that'll be the case.
So, you think that even though the Alliance party
is not entitled to be there,
the DUP would be magnanimous in the Alliance party's "defeat",
and invite it along to the table?
Let's not overstate it. It wasn't a defeat.
You're getting carried away with yourself, Mark, if I may say so.
Defeat to get 11 seats, Naomi, you know what I mean.
-Hang on, you know what I mean.
-We didn't cross the bar.
It was not a defeat.
You didn't clear the bar, so you're not there as right.
You said that yourself. But you're going to be magnanimous.
It's not for me to dole out munificence to Naomi Long
or anyone else, but I do think...
I'm clarifying what you said
a minute ago, which seemed to suggest...
They are presently an executive party, so I would imagine
they'd be part of any discussions around the programme for government.
At very least, I'd imagine the party would want people like Steven
and David in the room to discuss the work programme that is left
from the departments which they exited at the election.
So I would imagine, at the very least,
they would want them engaged at that level.
OK, John O'Dowd, can you shed any light on this
from Sinn Fein's perspective?
Do you imagine that Alliance will be in those
programme for government discussions?
I think Naomi has summed it up there.
There's experience for both David and Steven
in relation to those departments they've left.
And they do have experience which is useful
for the rest of the political parties to be involved
in elements of the programme for government.
Perhaps the entirely around the programme for government.
But we want to see moving forward an assembly which is fully functional
and working and people are buying into a programme
of delivery and change for this session.
Right, Robin Swann, you said you want to be part of those
conversations and you're entitled to be part of those conversations.
But still you seriously want to be
part of a propping-up Project Fear in the executive?
We don't want to be part of what the last executive delivered.
We don't want to be part of more of the same,
we don't want to be part of 400,000 people on the waiting list.
So, what you what need to hear to persuade you that you want
Mike Nesbitt to be Minister for Education?
We want to hear what's in the discussions.
We want to hear what the other parties are putting on the table
for the programme for government.
Each party's set out a manifesto of different commitments and pledges.
We want to see what makes up the final programme for government.
And the see of the other parties are genuinely committed.
But your hunch is that you'd want to be in the executive
rather than in opposition?
We want to be part of the talks around programme for government.
That doesn't answer my question.
Is your hunch that you want to be in the executive or the opposition?
We want to be part of the talks around the programme for government.
You've asked every Ulster Unionist politician that has come on
and they've given you the same questions.
You're consistent on that, if nothing else. Right, Nichola.
What's your hunch about whether the SDLP should be in or out,
as far as the executive is concerned?
My hunch is the SDLP's position has been made very clear
and we have been consistently making clear.
We fought this election, we had a manifesto,
we have key policy pledges, we'll be going in tomorrow morning
to the Assembly, we'll be talking to the other parties.
But we want to see what the content of the programme for government is.
And if the content is strong, if it delivers on some of our key
policy pledges, then yes, we will be government.
If it doesn't, then we'll need to reflect upon that
and consider our position.
Or, of course, you could try to change it.
It's interesting that both yourself and Robin Swann talked about
what the other parties have in their draft programme for government.
Forgive me for saying, but it's almost as if the DUP and Sinn Fein
will hand or circulate some sort of document
-that you either agree with or disagree with.
Should you not be part of influencing
-the creation of that document?
Neither of you articulated it in quite that way though.
Perhaps if I say it like this.
We had a manifesto.
Clearly the policy pledges were costed.
Very clearly that was what we were standing in this election for.
And that will form the basis of our negotiation on the content
of the programme for government.
And as part of that negotiation, we will be listening and inputting.
And the truth is, we've already seen the bare bones
of a draft programme for government
in your two manifestos, Christopher.
-But it's not a two-party government.
But you're conceding we have seen the bare bones
of a draft programme for government?
No, you've seen us outlining our policies
and the positions we will take in terms of any negotiations
regarding a programme for government.
And they're remarkably similar to Sinn Fein's.
Well, what I would say is, if other parties have other ideas,
they should bring those forward, we'll have the discussions.
We should try and put together a programme for government
that can command the support of as many in the house as possible.
But you don't need their support.
-What's the motivation for the DUP and Sinn Fein
to have the other parties involved?
The two of you can carve it up between you, and if they like it,
they can support you and join the executive.
If they don't like, they can lump it and go into opposition.
So why would you be generous to them? I don't understand.
Well, I don't think, to be fair, the SDLP in particular
ran on a platform saying vote for us to be the opposition.
I think they ran on a position of wanting to be
in the government of Northern Ireland.
The only way you can influence events in Northern Ireland
in terms of delivering for your constituency is to be at the table.
I understand that. I'm asking you why you would be
so generous all of a sudden to your political opponents?
It's not a case of me being generous, they've been mandated
by the people who voted for them to be there in government.
And if the people who voted for them mandated them
to be there in government, then I think
they should serve people who voted for them by being present.
So you make it clear
you'd rather they were in government than in opposition.
It's entirely a matter for the Ulster Unionist Party and the SDLP.
But from my perspective, I don't think the electorate
voted for either of those parties to not fulfil their obligations.
The people voted for them to be in the Assembly,
not necessarily to be in the executive.
I don't think people voted for an opposition,
they voted for those parties to be present in government.
John O'Dowd, would you like to have a two-party executive,
just yourselves and the DUP?
Would that be handier, cosier, easier?
I believe in the principles of the Good Friday Agreement.
And the Good Friday Agreement says
we shall have a power sharing executive,
and that's a power sharing executive including
all those parties you have a mandate to be in government.
But if you're in government, you're in government.
And what we witnessed from the Ulster Unionist Party and the SDLP
over this last five years was an opposition platform in government
which destabilised the executive,
which I think caused greater negativity in society
and caused suspicion of politics. So I hope the SDLP
and the Ulster Unionist Party go into government,
but I hope they go into government to govern, not to be an opposition
because if they're going to be an opposition,
go outside the executive
be an opposition cos there's nothing either of the two parties...
I don't fear them being an opposition,
I don't fear them being in government,
but I do have serious concerns that the agenda of "in, out,
"we're not sure if we're in government,
"we're not sure if we're an opposition,"
it's damaging the political institution.
But I think, and they can speak for themselves,
the criticism of the three smaller parties in the executive last time
around was the fact that their voice wasn't sufficiently
well heard by the two main parties, and that's why they were annoyed.
Hang on. The electorate have just spoken.
The only reason why Christopher and I represent the two largest parties
is because the electorate went out on Thursday
and made us the two largest parties.
As you refer to the smaller parties,
the electorate decided in numbers to vote
and put them into positions they're in. That's democracy.
-I think that that overstates how it was in the executive.
I have to say, our minister has achieved a lot despite being there.
Yeah, but they're frustrated as well.
We've heard from David Ford and Stephen Farry
-about how frustrating it was.
and we were clear about that.
But to be fair, I think if you ask any minister in the last executive
they'll point to issues where they were frustrated,
where they couldn't deliver.
The issue is whether or not you work constructively
with the other people around the table.
And we endeavoured to do that - but what I want to say is this.
There was a difference
in terms of how we dealt with the justice ministry
and that we got that after negotiations on the programme
for government, and David Ford has been very clear in paying tribute.
And to both the DUP and Sinn Fein
that when they got the deal for justice
around what the programme would be
they stuck to their word and allowed him to deliver within that remit.
Now if that happens,
that didn't happen around the wider executive last time.
If that happens around the executive this time
and people continue to stick to their word on those issues,
I don't think that any party that has something to offer
has anything to fear from being part of it.
I don't think I overstated it as far as the Ulster Unionist's
position is concerned.
Danny Kennedy at DRD was absolutely raging at the way
he was treated by the two bigger parties.
He was, and he was continually financially hamstrung by DUP
through monitoring rounds and through a decrease in budget.
As was Michael McGimpsey before him as health minister.
But all the ministers were.
You'd be willing to guarantee this round,
you'd want to guarantee this time...
He left a £20 million shortfall in his own budget.
It was the £20 million that was meant to come out...
They expected the executive to take the money out of health
and education and other places to fill the £20 million hole
he deliberately left in DRD.
That's £20 million that should have been in his budget.
OK, let's not fight that old battle again.
But the point is you would want to be sure that that scenario
wasn't going to replay in the next mandate
if you're going to go into the executive.
Is that the point?
And that's why we put that forward before 2011.
And that's why it's taking part now,
that we do the programme for government before we run the hunt.
In fairness, that has been our position since 1998.
And we actually made it work around justice
by engaging with people. And to be fair,
to hide behind things like cuts in your budget to say that was
the only reason you didn't deliver,
it's also by the calibre of your minister
and how they manage the budget.
Quick final thought, Nichola, on this, before I take one final issue.
Just to say the SDLP was very frustrated
by the culture within the executive.
But under the ministers that we had,
we think we can stand on a strong track record.
When the SDLP hold ministries they get things done.
I want to ask you about one issue
which has blown up on social media today,
and I am going put it first to Christopher.
I want to get a reaction from John.
There's a lot of Twitter reaction to a post that Gregory Campbell
put on Facebook. I don't know if you've seen it,
Christopher Stalford. He says, "Excellent election results.
"Sinn Fein long term plan just got an awful lot longer
"and breaking the habit of a lifetime to send best wishes
"to Raymond McCartney, Shinner MLA in Foyle - why, you may ask?
"Because he's a bit more successful at electioneering
"than he was at hunger striking."
How's that appropriate?
Well, I think those that are reacting to comments
that were made on social media, a lot of contrived anger around this.
I think it was a throwaway joke remark...
And I think a lot of those who are expressing fury and outrage
were a lot less slow in expressing their fury and outrage
at some of the Twitter comments that have been made recently
by the eccentric president of Sinn Fein.
So you think it was perfectly reasonable for him to put that up?
Well, look, I think if the worst that Gregory Campbell does
to a Sinn Fein representative is insult him,
there are people who have from a republican background
who have done a lot worse to Gregory Campbell down through the years,
and that includes attmepts to murder him and his family.
John, other Sinn Fein representatives
have been pretty unhappy
and have demanded that those remarks be withdrawn.
What's your view?
I think in this era they should be withdrawn.
And we're talking about going in to discuss a programme
for government, and have mutual respect,
mutual trust, mutual understanding within that.
But Gregory Campbell's a fool,
and he's away now to Westminster to retire.
I wish him well, staying over there.
And does that kind of spat, as we bring this conversation to an end,
really augur well for the future?
No, cos I don't think Gregory Campbell
represents the vast majority within the DUP.
I think the man is a loose cannon with the DUP.
I believe, and it's my experience over this last five years,
and last number of weeks,
-the unionist community want to work with republican...
-And the republican community wants to work with unionist.
I think Gregory Campbell's a valued member of our party,
a very strong constituency Member of Parliament in East Londonderry.
Not a fool? He's gone to Westminster to retire.
No, he's not. And were he, he would not have been elected so many times
by the people of the East Londonderry constituency.
And I know the circumstances around Gregory's family
and himself have been targeted many times by republicans for murder.
-Yeah, you said that.
-But let's keep these things in perspective.
You said it, we haven't got time to say it again.
And the president of Sinn Fein...
You've said that as well. Naomi, you're shaking your head.
I genuinely think that it is time
that Gregory stops trying to be funny,
because it falls flat on every occasion.
It's insulting to the electorate,
it's insulting to the people that he attacks.
It isn't amusing, it's childish and pathetic,
and frankly somebody should take over his social media account.
And I would give the same advice to a lot of other politicians,
including Gerry Adams over the last while.
Somebody needs to manage their accounts,
because when they go on these outbursts
they do politics no service.
We need to leave it there, folks. Thank you all very much.
No doubt we will hear a lot more from you weeks and months ahead.
Now, while Arlene Foster may be basking
in a job well done this weekend,
some party leaders might have other thoughts.
We'll hear more on that in a moment,
but first here's the Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams
who was at the Belfast count.
Tara Mills asked him if there was any disappointment on his part
that People Before Profit had topped the poll in his old constituency.
Ranting at something or shouting at something about something
or protesting about something is all very well. It isn't a policy.
What we're actively doing, and it's there, the proof is there,
is tackling the issue of poverty,
tackling the issue of disadvantage, deprivation, housing, homelessness
all of those issues, bringing jobs in,
pressing ahead with equality, working towards Irish unity,
reaching out to our unionist neighbours.
We're doing all of those things, and we will continue to do that.
What about some of the things during the campaign,
what was your personal view on the Catholic Church handed out leaflets
at Mass and really going the extra mile to say,
"Catholics should think about the moral questions,
"particularly over abortion and same-sex marriage"?
Well, I'm a Catholic. Nobody consulted me on that.
So it wasn't the Catholic Church, it was the Catholic hierarchy.
And they have the same rights as everybody else
to put their opinions on any issue
and those who believe in what they said will vote accordingly
and the rest make of us who make up our own minds.
will also vote accordingly.
When it comes to the campaign as well,
obviously you apologised for the tweet earlier in the week,
do you think it had any impact
and do you think it calls into question your leadership
of Sinn Fein as other party leaders are now looking at their leadership?
Well, I've exhausted that issue.
I didn't think it had any effect whatsoever
in terms of the election campaign.
But people have said it was an aberration, people find it difficult
to understand how anyone could use that particular word in...
Well, as I've said, I've dealt with the issue exhaustively.
My main point I stand over.
The parallels between the Irish and the African American
and the parallels between the American Civil Rights movement
and the civil rights movement here...
And you don't think you're any hindrance
to the all-Ireland ambition of Sinn Fein?
You don't think Sinn Fein needs a new leader?
Sinn Fein will have the leader that it has until it gets another leader.
At the moment I'm that leader and I do my best,
and, of course, if I thought I was a hindrance,
I would go and do something else.
Gerry Adams talking there at the Belfast count.
Let's hear the reflections of my guests of the day.
Fionnuala O Connor, Alex Kane and Mark Devenport.
Welcome to you all.
Mark, I just want to pick up with you first on that Facebook spat
with Gregory Campbell and Sinn Fein.
He was critical of Raymond McCartney, trying to hear a joke.
We hear from Christopher Stalford.
And there has been quite a bit of reaction.
You heard there John O'Dowd did not miss and hit the wall, as they say,
calling Gregory Campbell a fool and claiming Westminster
is now effectively a retirement home for him.
I'm sure Gregory Campbell won't see it that way.
You do get a sense, though,
that the same kind of focus that there is on Stormont
is not directed as Westminster so much these days
and maybe there's that whole business, now,
the MPs needing to make themselves relevant,
and Gregory Campbell's got a bit of a track record there.
The other thing I would say about it is that we will probably
continue to have the situation where, on the one hand,
you'll have Arlene Foster and Martin McGuinness
turning up at events and working together
and supposedly having this new spirit of partnership
and the Fresh Start Agreement, and so on.
And it will continue to coexist with rows about flags,
rows about legacy issues and so on.
That's one of the reasons, I suppose,
why dealing with the past has proved so difficult for them
to come up with a common approach to it.
Fionnuala, I just want to talk about the issue of leadership.
Some have referred to the cult of the leadership,
as that's something new in this election. Arlene Foster,
the whole campaign from the DUP's point of view being about Arlene.
And then we've had Gerry Adams' involvement in that tweet
and the controversy surrounding that.
A new leader in Colum Eastwood, he didn't really deliver for the SDLP.
Do you think it's a phenomenon that is worthy of attention,
or has anything really changed?
No, it's not worthy of attention,
because it's true all over the world.
And nothing has really changed.
Arlene is trying to do two things at the same time -
as other people have said.
Mark has just said it in a different way.
She's trying simultaneously to say, "I will not allow Sinn Fein to
"rewrite the past, I will not allow anybody to rewrite the past",
hammering away at this "innocent victims" thing, whilst saying,
"I'm off again with Martin McGuinness
"to sell Northern Ireland abroad."
So she should be able to relax a bit now,
and not flog that first bit so hard,
having done a very successful tour during the election.
She probably won't, because it probably is what she really thinks.
She cannot let go of the...
Won't allow Sinn Fein to rewrite themselves.
They've long ago rewritten themselves.
Alex, you look at the conversation we've just had
with representatives of the five main parties,
I wonder what you made of it?
Struck me there was an effort at magnanimity at one stage
on the part of the two bigger parties,
but then, on another occasions, we had the same old, same old,
and we had the snipping across the table about Project Fear?
And I think that's inevitable.
What we know from this outcome, DUP and Sinn Fein have got
a very clear, unambiguous mandate to work together.
That's what they now need to do.
And sometimes you think it looks good,
the body language is good.
I've talked to people on Friday night and on Saturday,
yes, we need to do this.
But then get them round the table, get them into a room
and the old snippy, snappy, snarly,
it's almost like, go back to the past.
It's almost like a default position for some of them.
It's easier to have that rather than a proper debate
about what they're going to do.
Do you think the Programme for Government
-is effectively already written?
-Of course it is.
I mean, Danny Kennedy himself said it,
I think the SDLP referred to it as well.
Three quarters of the Programme for Government is the Fresh Start,
which the other three parties rejected.
That's why I think I would just leave it.
DUP, Sinn Fein got their mandate,
I think they should say, "OK, guys, get on with it.
"We didn't get a mandate, we did not get a mandate to eclipse you.
"We didn't get a mandate to make it work.
"We didn't get a mandate to do something different.
-"Go and be the opposition."
I don't think they're going to be the opposition.
I don't think they're going to be.
Because they can't resist the lure of ministerial office?
No, there's a harsh reality.
If they don't go in, there are four DUP ministers
and three Sinn Fein ministers, and nobody else.
I think any politician worth their weight in gold -
and there's quite a lot of gold there - could not resist that.
Even though, in office, they felt neglected, they felt overruled.
They still had a department each.
And that's a big thing for parties to give up.
For something unknown, something unfocused.
In a tiny, make-believe assembly.
Tiny, make-believe legislature.
They've got have something to show their people.
And they've got to have something
for themselves to get their teeth into.
And there is now this far more vocal group of opposition speakers.
The real opposition will be
Jim Allister, Eamonn McCann, Gerry Carroll, Claire Sugden.
And the Greens,
who already have some experience in this kind of thing.
And, Mark, it's interesting when you look at it.
Should we be talking about two parties - the main two parties -
or four parties, including Sinn Fein and the SDLP.
Or five parties, because as we said in that, and as Naomi Long conceded,
as of right, the Alliance Party may not be at those
discussions about the Programme for Government?
This is the fortnight of discussions on the Programme for Government.
First, we're not quite sure whether they'll last for a fortnight.
They could be much quicker than that.
If there is a draft Programme for Government, as Alex said,
some of it is already in the Fresh Start Agreement,
quite a lot of it appears to be in the very similar looking
DUP and Sinn Fein manifestoes.
So if they've got that, they could push this on.
The Fresh Start Agreement talks about involving those parties
who qualify for government. That's the four.
But it also says - and I have to pay debt to Alex on this,
because he pointed at the small print to me - it also says,
"Who have indicated their intention is to take a place in government."
So if the DUP and Sinn Fein were wanting to be really hardline
about this, they could say, well, if you want to come into these
negotiations, can you first indicate your intention to take a place?
Which, so far, the SDLP and the Ulster Unionists
haven't firmly done so.
I suspect they won't be quite so hardline,
certainly at the start of the negotiations.
But they might curtail negotiations at an earlier stage
than the others would like and put it up to them.
I also suspect that even though Alliance might not,
as of right, be in the negotiations - because the DUP
and Sinn Fein at the moment don't have a plan B
in relation to the Justice Department -
I suspect that they'll be wanting to involve Alliance in that.
We basically heard much the same, I think, from John O'Dowd
and others who you were speaking to there in the discussion
that they will be bringing the Alliance in.
And Fionnuala made the point there, Alex,
that there is that oppositional corner already, and it could be
very effective with the additions that we have seen to it.
But you think that if there is bravery
demonstrated by the SDLP - and "bravery" in inverted commas -
by the SDLP and the Ulster Unionists,
it should be to move into opposition.
Because there now is the possibility of formal opposition,
-which there wasn't previously?
-That's the key point.
What we have, the so-called naughty corner.
It wasn't an opposition, it didn't get speakers' rights.
Jim Allister had to wait hours and hours
to get maybe three minutes, so did the others.
So that's not opposition.
The other thing I think where Fionnuala's wrong on this one,
for all the fact that the SDLP and Ulster Unionists said
it was really important to be in the executive from 2007-2016,
they lost votes - they all lost - not one of them gained a seat,
not one of them actually put on a vote.
There is nothing to be gained by stuck in that executive.
-Last sentence, Fionnuala.
..to be gained by being out of it,
and they are not natural coalition partners,
the SDLP and the Ulster Unionists.
-Except in losing votes.
-Nor the DUP or Sinn Fein.
-That doesn't work either!
-We need to leave it there, folks.
Thank you all very much indeed.
That is it for the special election edition of Sunday Politics.
I'll be back with The View on Thursday night
here on BBC One at 10:45.
But I'll leave you with a reminder of some of the highlights
of the 2016 Assembly election.
And as before, there is some flash photography.
From all of us, bye-bye.
# I remember us alone
# Waiting for the light to go
# Don't you feel that hunger?
# I've got so many secrets to show
# When I saw you on that stage
# I shiver with the look you gave
# Don't you hear that rhythm?
# Can you show me how we can escape?
# Ooh-ooh, ooh-ooh
# I was biting my tongue
# I was trying to hide
# Ooh-ooh, ooh-ooh
# I'll forget what I've done
# I'll be redefined... #
Eamonn McCann, People Before Profit Alliance.
Infamously, Alex Kane said that he would sing on the steps
of Stormont if Clare Bailey got elected in South Belfast.
Well, I believe he is going to honour that promise.
# I'm holding it all tonight
# I'm folding it all tonight
# You know that you make it shine
# It's you that I've been waiting to find... #
I may have been...
I was ambitious.
..what you've put it in with?
Well, I can't bring you any scandal,
either generated by myself or generated by others.
# It's you that I've been waiting to find
# Ooh-ooh, ooh-ooh
# It's you that I've been waiting to find. #
Well, I'm unemployed. I need to go and look for a job.
# Internationally unite... #