Sinn Fein northern leader, Michelle O’Neill (R) and Mary Lou McDonald, Sinn Fein leader (C) pose for photos with candidates and activists (Photo: Getty Images)
As counting concluded in the early hours of Sunday morning, the final results confirmed what had long been likely, that the Republican party would force the DUP into second place.
The US, UK and Irish governments have called on political parties in Northern Ireland to re-establish a devolved administration.
The country has been without a power-sharing executive for several months after the DUP collapsed the institutions as part of its protest against the Northern Ireland Protocol - part of the Brexit deal.
Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis said he would meet with party leaders over the coming days to urge them to restore Stormont, starting with the nomination of an assembly speaker within eight days.
The final seat of 90 was claimed by the DUP’s Gary Middleton in Foyle after a marathon count which ended after 1am.
Sinn Fein has won 27 seats while the DUP has 25, the Alliance Party 17, the Ulster Unionists (UUP) nine and the SDLP eight, with four others elected.
The Alliance Party has also enjoyed a successful election and will emerge as the third biggest party at Stormont, while the UUP and SDLP have had disappointing results.
Ulster Unionist leader Doug Beattie was elected in Upper Bann despite earlier fears he could lose his seat.
However there was upset for the SDLP when deputy leader and outgoing Stormont infrastructure minister Nichola Mallon lost her seat in North Belfast.
Full results in our interactive chart below
What’s been said?
In her declaration speech in Magherafelt after topping the poll in Mid Ulster, Michelle O’Neill said: “Today represents a very significant moment of change.
“Today ushers in a new era which I believer presents us all with an opportunity to reimagine relationships in this society on the basis of fairness, on the basis of equality and the basis of social justice.
“Irrespective of religious, political or social backgrounds my commitment is to make politics work.
In a press conference shortly afterwards, party president Mary Lou McDonald said the Stormont powersharing Executive needed to be re-established.
She said: “We look forward to an Executive being established, I look forward to Michelle O’Neill being nominated as first minister and to have politics that delivers for people.
“We would appeal to everybody to take stock, take breaths and really assess the huge responsibility that all of us carry.
“Collectively we have an obligation to get government up and running.”
You can find out who has been elected in your area in the map below
The DUP, led by Sir Jeffrey Donaldson, will comfortably retain its position as the largest unionist party despite a drop in its overall share of the vote.
Speaking at the count at the Titanic Exhibition Centre, Sir Jeffrey said unionism “has held its ground”.
“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 said.
“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.”
Asked whether Northern Ireland will have devolved government in 2022, Sir Jeffrey said: “Let’s cross all the bridges when we get to them.”
He also said he will make it clear next week whether he will return to Stormont or remain at Westminster.
“The party officers will sit down, we will consider what we need to do now to get the action that is required from the Government, I will be making my decision clear on all of that early next week,” he told the BBC.
Unionist and nationalist parties – who either support the union with the UK or favour a united Ireland respectively – share power under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement.
The largest party in the Assembly following an election appoints the first minister, while the largest party from the other group appoints the deputy first minister.