Writing in the News Letter, DUP Leader and First Minister Rt. Hon. Peter Robinson said,
“It was a long campaign but the result has made it all worthwhile. Unionism has decided that the DUP is on the right course and our strategy and policies have been endorsed. The DUP not only returns to Stormont as the largest Party and thus will hold the First Minister’s position but we have also increased our mandate to 38 Assembly Members. This is the best Assembly election result in the history of our Party and our team deserve great credit. As leader, I am indebted to all our Party workers who have been organising and working on the campaign trail over the past twelve months. I pay tribute to their dedicated and unwavering hard work and particularly to our forty-four DUP candidates and their families.
When writing on these pages only a few days ahead of the election, I asked News Letter readers to support the DUP’s vision to keep Northern Ireland moving forward and ensure that unionism returned to the Assembly in a position of strength.
I said we offered a positive vision for the future where the economy would be the Executive’s number one priority. I outlined how we wanted to see more jobs, tougher sentences and low rates. We wanted to fix education and we wanted better health. I also said we wanted to work together with other parties and we wanted to strengthen unionism.
The electorate has responded to that vision and has given us an increased mandate to enter the Assembly and ensure we keep Northern Ireland moving in the right direction.
This result has settled the course of unionism. Those who claimed traditional unionists wanted to wreck Stormont got their answer through the ballot box. Their wreckers’ charter has been rejected. Genuine traditional unionists want to see Stormont working. They want a strong team at the table ensuring Northern Ireland is getting the best deal. But they also realise that to achieve this we must work with others.
Those who tried to be in the last Executive but not of the Executive also received a loud message from the electorate. Their disruptive and disingenuous politics were rejected.
I recognise that Stormont isn’t perfect but those who oppose us offer no credible alternative. I indicated at our manifesto launch that I would take constructive proposals from other parties and work to make them a reality because I realise that this structure only succeeds if we work together. However, I will robustly expose those who try to score points by carping from the sidelines and talking Northern Ireland down.
It is my hope that with no scheduled elections for three years there will be a more constructive attitude amongst the parties at Stormont. Indeed, within unionism there is a lot more that unites us than divides us and I want to build on that over the next term. No matter what constituency I canvassed in the election the message was clear that unionists wanted to see their representatives working together. I’m in favour of that and the DUP will work towards it.
After months of planning, six weeks of campaigning, a day of polling and two long days of waiting around the Newtownards count centre, on Saturday evening I was able to make my declaration speech. In that speech, I dedicated our success in the election to the memory of young Constable Ronan Kerr. This young man, recognising the threat, enrolled with the PSNI to serve his community. As individuals we must work to ensure this Province never goes back to the dark ways of our past.
As First Minister, I look forward, along with my team and all those who will work with us, to playing a full part in building a society where everyone can be proud to say they come from Northern Ireland. I’m honoured to say, the DUP has firmly established itself as the Party of Northern Ireland.”