His remarks come amid a picture of gloom for unionists, with Sinn Fein still on course to be the biggest party.
Mr Kearney, who easily won his seat back in South Antrim, was referring to the DUP’s insistence that the Protocol must be axed before it will re-enter government.
However, Sinn Fein itself tipped Northern Ireland into a three-year spell of governmental limbo from January 2017 to January 2020 when Martin McGuinness walked out of his role of Deputy First Minister.
Whilst Sinn Fein’s abstention from government was initially said to be over the RHI scandal, as time went on it became apparent that the party was eyeing some kind of Irish language act.
It was widely understood to be an un-written pre-condition for reviving the Executive (though Sinn Fein never openly and plainly acknowledged this).
Speaking on Saturday, Mr Kearney told supporters and rivals at the count centre in Newtownabbey that a government must now be formed “without any pre-conditions at all”.
“Next week the process to restore power-sharing in the north of Ireland needs to commence without further delay,” he said.
“The conditions have been met. The conditions have been met because the people are sovereign.”
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