Prime minister David Cameron has hailed a new political deal to address a range of disputes at the heart of power-sharing in Northern Ireland.
Broad consensus between the Executive parties and the UK and Irish governments was reached after an 11-week talks process culminated with a marathon 30 hours round of negotiations at Stormont House.
Mr Cameron said: “I am delighted that a workable agreement has been reached that can allow Northern Ireland to enjoy a brighter, more prosperous future, while at the same time finally being able to deal with its past.”
Crucial to negotiations were the terms of a new £2bn financial package offered by the UK Government.
Mr Cameron added: “This agreement means the UK Government has been able to offer a significant financial package that opens the way for more prosperity, stability and economic security for Northern Ireland. And it means the parties can now genuinely begin to overcome the key outstanding issues which have been unresolved since the Belfast Agreement.
“This historic agreement has been long in the making and I would also like to pay tribute to all those involved – the Northern Ireland parties, the UK and Irish governments and Senator Hart – for getting us to this position. We will now all work collaboratively to see this through. The people of Northern Ireland deserve nothing less.”
The talks were aimed at reaching agreement on a range of wrangles creating logjams in the administration. Long-standing peace process disputes on flags, parades and the legacy of the past were on the agenda, as were more immediate budgetary concerns, in particular the Executive’s non-implementation of the UK Government’s welfare reforms.