Speaking at an election count centre in Jordanstown, Mr Paisley said: “I think the elephant in the room is the protocol.
“Until we get this matter fixed we can have whatever election we want but there is not going to be a government until we get that protocol issue resolved.
“Hopefully today will be a focus for the government that they have to now resolve this, not just for unionists but for everyone. The protocol hurts us all.”
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He added: “People want the Assembly to function, I want it to function as well but it can’t function when we have this sword of Damocles hanging over us as regards the protocol.”