Voting gets underway in Northern Ireland

The vote comes less than a year after the last Assembly election

Voting gets underway in Northern Ireland

An early voter attending the South Belfast Polling Station as voting started in the Northern Ireland Assembly elections. Picture by: Liam McBurney/PA Wire/PA Images

Voting is underway in the Northern Ireland Assembly election.

It is the second poll in less than a year, and was caused by the collapse of power-sharing in January.

The collapse came after Sinn Féin's deputy first minister Martin McGuinness resigned amid the controversy over the Renewable Heating Incentive (RHI) scheme.

First minister Arlene Foster had refused to step aside during an investigation into the botched scheme.

Sinn Féin did not put forward a new nomination for deputy first minister, automatically triggering an election.

Polls opened at 7am this morning, and 90 seats are being contested across 18 constituencies.

The number of seats has decreased from the 108 that were available in 2016.

Belfast based correspondent Alan Murray says Sinn Féin - who last month named Michelle O'Neill as their new Northern Irish leader - will be hoping to build on its success from last time round.

Speaking to Newstalk Breakfast, Mr Murray also explained: "In theory, people are very angry about being brought back to the poll. This should hit the executive because most people did not want an election.

"Northern Ireland rarely changes very quickly - but I'm looking forward to a very interesting day.

"My prediction is that the DUP will lose nine seats, Sinn Féin will lose seven, the Ulster Unionists will lose one, the SDLP one," he added.