Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 2 September 2014

PM urges shared future in N Ireland

Prime Minister David Cameron addresses the Northern Ireland Assembly at Stormont
Prime Minister David Cameron addresses the Northern Ireland Assembly at Stormont

Northern Ireland politicians must do more to end the bitter sectarian divisions which remain in their society, the Prime Minister has insisted.

David Cameron told the Stormont Assembly that he was depressed at the increase in so-called "peace walls" and disappointed that Protestants and Catholics often lived segregated lives.

He said it was now time for the parties to "move beyond the peace process" and to build a shared future. But he warned that "the days are over" when cash from London could be sought to solve every problem.

The Prime Minister praised the success in ending the large-scale violence of the past and vowed government would take a role in healing wounds, but he also challenged paramilitary groups such as the IRA to play their part.

However, his speech was dominated by calls for the Assembly to begin to deliver on policies to improve the lives of ordinary people.

"Being an advocate of Northern Ireland, and wanting to see it progress, does not mean remaining silent on the problems that remain, and the responsibilities of the members of this Assembly," he said. "I think I have a duty to give you my honest view.

"Whether you serve here as a minister, a member of a committee or as a backbench member, all of you carry the responsibility over the next four years of delivering real improvements to people's lives."

First Minister Peter Robinson and Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness had earlier detailed their desire to make continued progress, but said Mr Cameron's Government had obligations which it also had to live up to.

Mr Robinson said: "We had the chance today to talk about how we normalise society in Northern Ireland, the steps that we are taking, how we can deal with disaffected young people, how we provide for people in Northern Ireland even in light of the economic constraints that we have."

The First Minister later rejected suggestions that the Stormont administration was being accused of "begging-bowl politics", and he said the very reason the devolved government sought control of its own corporation tax was to help build its own revenue source.

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