The DUP leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson has said his party has done “extremely well” despite a significant fall in its share of the vote and the loss of at least two seats.
Counting is still ongoing but the party is set to come second behind Sinn Féin who polled 29% of the vote - well ahead of the DUP whose vote dropped by 6.7% to 21.3%.
Most of that went to the hard line TUV party, although some also went to the cross community Alliance party which has surged into third place.
Despite this, Sir Jeffrey said he was optimistic about his party’s future and insisted that it had done “extremely well” given the circumstances:
"The unionist vote remains strong, we are the largest designation in the Assembly, I think there is a lot of spin around results and I'm very pleased with how the DUP has done in our constituencies," he told journalists.
"We've held a remarkable number of seats where people were predicting all kinds of negative things, so we have strong foundations, we continue to build on them."
Deputy First Minister Sir Jeffrey Donaldson?
When asked whether the DUP would serve in an Executive with Sinn Féin’s Michelle O’Neill as First Minister, Sir Jeffrey replied, “Let’s cross all the bridges when we get to them.”
The party has previously said it would refuse to serve in the powersharing Executive unless there was reform to the Northern Ireland Protocol which mandates checks on goods crossing into the province from Great Britain.
Britain and the EU are currently trying to negotiate aspects of it but progress over the past few months has been slow.
Main image: DUP MP for Lagan Valley Sir Jeffrey Donaldson.