Voters who supported Jim Allister in Thursday’s election have strengthened his hand in taking on the Stormont Executive, the TUV leader has said.
In a speech after the declaration, Mr Allister said that “the thorn in the side of misrule has been considerably sharpened by the attendant hands of 75,000 people in this election”.
TUV members turned their backs on Sinn Fein’s Martina Anderson as she made her acceptance speech at the King’s Hall before Mr Allister made a point of congratulating all of the candidates except Mrs Anderson, because of her history as an IRA bomber.
Mr Allister said: “I hear talk that Dr Haass may be returning. Well, I’ve got a message for roll-over unionism: TUV is on your case. To those who are tempted to do another sordid deal – keep looking over your shoulder...Mr Robinson, we’re on your case.”
The North Antrim MLA saw his share of the vote drop slightly but surprised many by increasing his number of votes from 66,000 in 2009 to more than 75,000.
In the end, it was Mr Allister’s transfers which elected the DUP’s Diane Dodds.
The former DUP MEP, who after deciding to stand was accused by the DUP of splitting the unionist vote, pointed to the increase in the unionist share of the vote.
“The gap between unionism and nationalism is at the widest, in terms of percentages, since 1986,” he said.
“That’s a consequence...of ensuring that every unionist had someone to vote for in this election and then to use their transfers.”