Peter Robinson has been elected leader of the Democratic Unionist Party at a meeting today.

The 59-year-old east Belfast MP was the choice of the 36-strong Assembly Group to take over from Dr Ian Paisley, with north Belfast MP Nigel Dodds as the new deputy leader.

Assembly members unanimously agreed a joint nomination of Mr Robinson and Mr Dodds and will go to the party's 120-member executive committee on Thursday night to have the nominations formally ratified.

Tánaiste and Taoiseach-elect Brian Cowen travelled to Belfast this morning for discussions with Mr Robinson.

They have announced an agreement to allow financial services companies based it the Republic to have back office and middle management jobs locate in Northern Ireland.

The arrangement has the approval of the Republic's financial regulator. It is technically complex but significant in practical and political terms.

In recent years the relationship between Taoiseach Bertie Ahern and Ian Paisley was one of the most important driving forces in North-South relationships.

Today saw evidence of a new dynamic involving Mr Cowen and Mr Robinson.

From early May, Mr Cowen will be Taoiseach and in the first week of June Mr Robinson will become Northern Ireland First Minister.