- 'The winner' would be: The DUP: They maintained their high water mark of 38 seats. This is impressive after 5 years of controversy with in out Government ; Stormont house and Fresh start agreements; bitter debates over gay rights; petitions of concern and Irish language. They also have a new leader who is very different to the old in terms of her pedigree (Woman; Fermanagh; Church of Ireland; UUP past) Arlene Foster faced this election almost as a vote of confidence in her and this has given her a mandate to address any potential critics in her Party and outside it.
- The runner up : Sinn Fein: They did well, polling just under their 2011 high water mark. But there are warning signs in the SF green room. They did not secure the magic number of 30 - that would allow them to have an effective veto without the support of other parties (like the DUP have. They came two short. The other worry is the seeming disaffection in some quarters of nationalism- People Before Profit topped the poll in West Belfast of all places. Could this be a protest vote against SF's acceptance of Welfare reform or weariness with the politics of Stormont?
- The Mid table performers: The UUP: Well it wasn't a disaster. They held their own. However, they were expecting so much more as was clear from Mike Nesbitt's predictions. They didn't keep the momentum of the General election wins going. Alliance will be disappointed. They got Naomi Long in and maintained their seats but they have failed to really break through the 10% support barrier which would mean a real change in politics. They hoped for so much more with their prominent Executive positions. It looks as if they will even fail to qualify for an Executive seat by d'hondt
- Finally there is a loser and it is the SDLP. It seemed as if its young new leader could possibly begin a fight back from the decline. However, there was over a 2% decline in their vote (over 11,000 votes) and a loss of 2 seats Voters remained confused over their policy stance and were perhaps put off by the very public infighting over positions in West Tyrone. Eastwood will have to wait longer before making a greater impact.
Mr John Wishart -