Edwin Poots has been named as the new leader of the Democratic Unionist Party in Northern Ireland.

He was one of two candidates in the running for the party's top job - alongside long-standing MP Jeffrey Donaldson.

In the leadership election, Mr Poots got 19 votes, while Mr Donaldson got 17 votes.

It is the first leadership contest in the DUP's 50-year history.

Speaking this evening, Mr Poots said he was "honoured" to be given the opportunity, and thanked Mr Donaldson, saying the contest made the party stronger, and that Mr Donaldson will "continue to play a leading role" in the party.

Mr Poots reiterated that his agenda as party leader is to "reform, inspire and reinvigorate" unionism.

He said he recognises the challenges, namely the opposition of the Northern Ireland protocol.

Mr Poots said he would speak to the Northern Ireland Secretary of State Brandon Lewis by phone this evening and would travel to London to meet with government members next week.

He did not take questions from the media after making his brief statement.

Earlier in accepting the leadership, Mr Poots said the DUP will continue to be the authentic voice of unionism under his leadership. He said there is much to do and he is very proud to take up this mantle.

He said he will be a leader in unionism, reaching out to other unionist leaders, adding that the Northern Ireland Protocol is a massive challenge and if they are to fight it, he wants them to do it together.

Mr Poots said he looked forward to positive relations right across Northern Ireland with party colleagues and with people from other parties.

He said Northern Ireland's greatest thing is the resilence of its people and that that resilience brought people through civil war, depression and IRA campaigns up to 1994.

He added he did not want to see unionist bickering as in the past and he encouraged all unionsts to work with him to set foundations at the end of 2021 for another 100 years of Northern Ireland within the UK.

The new leadership follows the announcement from the outgoing leader and Northern Ireland's First Minister Arlene Foster that she intends to resign.

Ms Foster will step down as DUP leader on 28 May, and as First Minister at the end of June.

The party's 36-member electoral college were able to vote for a new leader and deputy leader in a secret, remote ballot.

The electoral college comprises 28 members of the Northern Ireland Assembly and eight MPs.

Ms Foster resigned after an internal revolt against her leadership. She was among those expected to cast a vote in the leadership election today.

The Taoiseach has offered his congratulations to Mr Poots. Micheál Martin said his door is always open and that he looks forward to engagement.

He added that he expects all parties to protect the Northern Ireland institutions and to make sure they work effectively.

The Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney has tweeted his congratulations to Edwin Poots and the new DUP Deputy Leader, Paula Bradley.

He said he looks forward to "engaging and working" with them on the "shared challenges and mutual benefit" North and South.

Northern Ireland's Secretary of State has also offered his congratulations.

In a tweet this evening Brandon Lewis said he looks forward to working with the new DUP Leader to "address the challenges and embrace the opportunities that lie ahead for Northern Ireland".

Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald wished Mr Poots well on his election.

"For the last year, the five parties in the Executive have worked together in the fight against Covid-19. We must have the same unity of purpose and ambition facing the challenges ahead on the pathway to recovery," she said.

"The incoming leader of the DUP faces a new political landscape in the north, across the island and indeed between our two islands. Change is happening and we need to prepare for it," she said.

Northern Ireland's Justice Minister and leader of the Alliance Party also sent well wishes to the new leadership team in the DUP.

Naomi Long said there are "huge challenges ahead" for the Executive and that "success will depend on our willingness to work together for the common good".