Mike Nesbitt has been elected as the new leader of the Ulster Unionist Party by a ballot of party members in Belfast, reports RTE.

The 54-year-old former television presenter and married father of four defeated rival John McCallister by 536 votes to 129. The battle for leadership revolved around whether to take the UUP into opposition at Stormont.

Said Nesbitt: "I want everyone in this country to get out of bed with a sense of purpose. I want this party to wake up with a sense of purpose."

"I want us to reach out to become the party of choice for every pro-union voter in Northern Ireland, including those who still say they want a United Ireland, but privately accept there is no longer a single reason not to enjoy their continued membership of the United Kingdom."

About 660 people voted out of the 850 who attended Saturday's party AGM in Belfast.

Mike NesbittPacemaker