Northern Ireland

Sinn Féin's Mitchel McLaughlin elected as NI Assembly speaker

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Media captionSinn Féin's Mitchel McLaughlin was elected speaker of the Northern Ireland Assembly on Monday

Sinn Féin's Mitchel McLaughlin has been elected as the new speaker of the Northern Ireland Assembly, becoming the first nationalist to hold the position.

First Minister Peter Robinson said his party would honour its agreement to support the election of the assembly's first Sinn Féin speaker.

Mr Robinson said the DUP would back him because Sinn Féin had now honoured its obligations on welfare reform.

There were two other candidates: John Dallat, SDLP, and Roy Beggs, UUP.

In an interview for the BBC, Mr McLaughlin said he had stepped back from party politics.

"I have a new role now which is speaker for the entire assembly for every single party, including the TUV," he said.

"I am going to be very rigorous and very strong."

Welfare reform

The DUP's William Hay retired as speaker in October 2014 due to ill health.

He will officially take his seat in the House of Lords on Tuesday.

The two biggest parties previously agreed that Sinn Féin would take over the speaker's role halfway through the current Assembly term.

However, the DUP delayed backing Mr McLaughlin, linking his election to a successful resolution of the dispute over welfare reform.

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