A deal to resolve Northern Ireland's current political crisis has been announced.
The agreement endorsed by Sinn Fein, the Democratic Unionists and the UK and Irish governments was struck after almost 10 weeks of negotiations at Stormont House in Belfast.
The agreement - A Fresh Start: The Stormont Agreement and Implementation Plan - runs to 67 pages.
A range of disputes, including the fallout from a murder linked to the IRA and an acute budgetary crisis over non-implementation of welfare reforms, had pushed the coalition Executive towards the verge of collapse.
It's out - Stormont deal pic.twitter.com/Qai7Egodj6— Lesley-Anne McKeown (@LAMcbelfast) November 17, 2015
An NIO statement said: "'A Fresh Start: the Stormont Agreement and Implementation Plan' builds on previous political agreements and brings closer the goal of Northern Ireland where politics works, the economy grows and society is stronger."
It is understood the deal has found a way to resolve an acute budgetary crisis caused by a long-running failure to implement welfare reforms.
A motion to give Westminster the power to rule on the devolved matter is expected to be debated in the Assembly on Wednesday.
However, it does not incorporate a solution to a vexed wrangle over the legacy of Northern Ireland's troubled past with intensive negotiations failing to resolve the impasse over the prospect of some official documents not being disclosed, on national security grounds, to proposed truth-recovery bodies.
The fallout from the IRA-linked killing of former IRA man Kevin McGuigan in August had been on the agenda during the ten-week talks process and a new three-person panel is likely to be set up to examine the ongoing scourge of paramilitarism.
It is thought the independent panel will report back next May.
While only DUP and Sinn Fein sign-off is required among the local parties to implement any deal, they both would ideally like the endorsement of Stormont's three other main parties - the Ulster Unionists, the SDLP and Alliance Party - to add greater legitimacy.
The UUP is viewed as the least likely three to sign up.
The SDLP has insisted it will not sign up to a bad deal.
Here are the key elements contained in the 67 pages of A Fresh Start - The Stormont Agreement and Implementation Plan.
Section A: Ending Paramilitarism and Tackling Organised Crime:
Section B: NI Executive Financial Reforms and Context:
Section C: NI Executive Welfare and Tax Credits Top-Ups:
Section D: UK Government Financial Support:
Section E: Irish Government Financial Support:
Section F: Implementation of other aspects of the Stormont House Agreement:
First Minister Peter Robinson MLA said: "This afternoon we have concluded the talks process with an Agreement. After many months of discussion and many difficulties along the way we are publishing the agreement entiltled 'A Fresh Start – The Stomont Agreement and Implementation Plan'.
"We believe the agreement will consolidate the peace, secure stability, enable progress and offer all our people hope for the future.
"Both the deputy First Minister and I are pledged to work together to implement the vision contained within the Agreement. While coming from different political backgrounds with different political outlooks we are both united in our determination to forge a better, more prosperous future for everyone in Northern Ireland.
"At the outset of this process I indicated that we needed to make Stormont fit for purpose and to secure an agreement that would deliver a stable and long-term basis upon which to operate. I believe we have secured that outcome.
"For the first time this agreement commits all parties to call for and work together to achieve the disbandment of all paramilitary organisations and their structures; and to accept no authority, direction or control on our political activities other than our democratic mandate alongside our own personal and party judgement. These and other commitments will be added to the Pledge of Office as a requirement of a person taking Ministerial office.
"In addition to further commitments from the parties there will be a new and concerted effort to tackle criminality and organised crime. A new joint agency taskforce will be established and resourced with the aim of putting those still involved in terror and criminality out of business once and for all.
"Undoubtedly at the heart of this agreement is a desire to build a better Northern Ireland for all our citizens. We set out further steps to develop our economy, support those most vulnerable, assist working people and build on the political progress to date.
"The decision to reduce our Corporation Tax rate from April 2018 to 12.5% will we believe act as a game changer in our efforts to grow the Northern Ireland economy. The additional half billion financial package will allow us to protect front-line services ensuring we become efficient in how we deliver for the public.
"Our agreement contains details of the steps we will take as an Executive, as well as those to be taken by the UK Government, on welfare reform and sets out measures to support those working people who may suffer from a reduction in tax credits. The UK Government will pass a Northern Ireland Welfare Bill at Westminster following a debate in the Assembly tomorrow.
"The Executive will provide £345 million for welfare top-ups and £240 million for tax credit support over the next four years. We have asked Professor Eileen Evason to lead a small working group to bring forward proposals and the Executive will implement the findings of the group. In my view this represents a sensible way forward and will ensure we have both a fair and affordable welfare system while recognising the need to help those who are also in work.
"Today represents another milestone along the way as we normalise and build our society. The agreements and plans we set out represent our desire to overcome the difficulties of the last number of years. We must ensure that through co-operation and common purpose the spirit, vision and promise of the document is fulfilled."
Sinn Fein's Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness said the settlement represented a new opportunity.
He said: "At the heart of this agreement is our common commitment to a better future.
"The cuts to our welfare budgets, tax credits and our block grant are wrong and unfair. We are determined to do all in our power to oppose this austerity and protect our people and our public services.
"We have secured more than half a billion pounds of additional funding for the Executive plus flexibilities that can be invested in growth and public services.
"We are providing a package of £585 million to support the most vulnerable in our society and low-income working families.
"We have appointed a panel under the leadership of Professor Eileen Evason to draft proposals on how this money will provide essential support to people on welfare and thousands of families targeted by Tory cuts to tax credits.
"We will continue to do all we can to support those in need.
"The legacy of the past remains a huge gap in this work. The onus remains on the British government to live up to their responsibilities to victims, in particular full disclosure.
"We also addressed directly the issue of paramilitarism. There can be no place for armed groups in our society. That is why the agreement includes additional resources for policing and mechanisms to challenge armed gangs and criminality.
"Our political institutions are the best way forward. The First Minister and I are absolutely united on this."
Prime Minister David Cameron said it was "an important turning point for Northern Ireland".
"The agreement secures sustainability for Northern Ireland's budget, sets out how we'll deal with paramilitary groups, and could provide a basis for a shared future for the people of Northern Ireland," he said.
Northern Ireland Secretary Theresa Villiers said: "This deal means that Northern Ireland's finances can be put back on a sustainable footing, ending the long-standing dispute over the budget.
"There will be a fresh emphasis on tackling paramilitarism and organised crime and clear declaration that such activity will never be tolerated.
"And there will be reforms of the Executive and Assembly to make devolution work better.
"Today's agreement is another step towards the Government's goal of building a brighter, more secure future for all the people of Northern Ireland."
Charlie Flanagan, the Republic of Ireland's Minister for Foreign Affairs, described the deal as a "credible roadmap" to tackling ongoing paramilitarism and implement aspects of last December's Stormont House Agreement.
"It underpins all our efforts to bring greater reconciliation and economic prosperity to the people of Northern Ireland and communities right across our island," he said.
Mr Flanagan said the NI parties were agreed on working to disband all paramilitary groups, their structures and to challenge their control of communities.
An international body will be established to oversee that.
On organised and cross-border crime, more co-operation between police on both sides of the border will be pursued and strategic priorities will also be identified to crackdown on gangs.
Mr Flanagan said the Irish and British governments will reflect on demands to balance the needs of victims' families and national security in trying to deal with legacy issues of the Troubles.
"The needs of victims and survivors will remain central to our work," he said.
"We are determined to achieve the establishment of these institutions so that we can in a fundamental way deal with the past, foster reconciliation and build a society for future generations that is free from hurt and suspicion."
Mr Flanagan also said the Irish Government had given a commitment to fund the long-awaited upgrade of the A5.
US secretary of state John Kerry welcomed the deal.
He said: "The United States welcomes the announcement today of an agreement among Northern Ireland's political parties to strengthen Northern Ireland's devolved institutions.
"Northern Ireland's party leaders deserve credit for the considerable work and political courage they demonstrated to resolve difficult budgetary issues, implement institutional reforms outlined by the Stormont House Agreement, and develop a framework to counter residual paramilitaries.
"I commend the UK and Irish governments for patiently and steadfastly facilitating this successful outcome.
"I also urge all of Northern Ireland's political leaders to support and fully implement this agreement. It was carefully constructed to deliver better and sustainable governance, as well as to advance Northern Ireland's peace process for the benefit of all the people of the region.
"I strongly encourage the UK and Irish governments and all the parties to continue their vital work to deal effectively with the past by creating the institutions set out in the Stormont House Agreement.
"The United States will provide continued political support for Northern Ireland's peace process and for implementation of this accord. Moreover, my personal representative, Senator Gary Hart (Retired), will continue his deep engagement in support of a peaceful and prosperous Northern Ireland."
The Ulster Unionist Party said it will give the Stormont Agreement careful consideration.
A spokesperson said: "We received the document late this afternoon and it is only fair that we give it careful consideration. We have already identified a number of questions for which we will be seeking answers and there remain a number of outstanding issues.
"There are questions around the finances. We will need to reconcile the various references to additional monies. There are also some glaring omissions. We are very disappointed that victims’ hopes have been built up, only to be let down again.
"We will analyse the document`s content before coming to a definitive position."
The Confederation of British Industry (CBI) Northern Ireland chair, Colin Walsh, has given an initial response to the announcement of a new political deal for Northern Ireland.
Mr Walsh said: "The CBI and the wider business community welcomes the announcement of a new comprehensive political deal that promises to resolve the long standing political instability that has had a detrimental impact on our economic recovery.
"The recent spate of job losses has demonstrated that the economy, now more than ever, needs political stability with a clear vision, leadership and commitment across the Executive.
"CBI has been clear that Northern Ireland can prosper under devolution. This new deal must ensure there is a fully functioning Executive which can deliver good government and make decisions in the best interests of Northern Ireland’s future prosperity and all its citizens. I hope this deal will ensure we have brought an end to the series of standoffs and showdowns. The prize of success is tremendous and the opportunities enormous.
"I would like to congratulate the First Minister and the deputy First Minister, all their political representatives as well as the other participating parties both locally, nationally and internationally on the significant efforts they have put in to reach this much needed agreement.”
"The business community welcomes the NI Executive’s commitment to introduce a 12.5% corporation tax rate in April 2018. This announcement will undoubtedly provide a key ingredient to energise the private sector as well as attracting a new generation of inward investment businesses thereby creating tens of thousands of new jobs and boost prosperity for all, and transform our economic prospects.
"We also welcome the commitments to proceed with the construction of key transport road projects, including the completion of the A5 by 2019, with the financial support of the Irish government. The additional £500m commitment from the UK government and additional financial flexibilities are also clearly a welcome step forward and recognition of our unique challenges.”
"It is now vitally important that the commitments in this Agreement are delivered by all the parties."
PwC Tax partner Martin Fleetwood said: "Under today's agreement, the Executive commits to reduce the Northern Ireland rate of corporation tax to 12.5% from April 2018 and the business community will welcome that clarity and commitment.
"It will permit Invest Northern Ireland to begin promoting the lower rate in its marketing efforts and encourage companies to ensure that they are compliant."
The Northern Ireland Independent Retail Trade Association (NIIRTA) has welcomed the Fresh Start Stormont Agreement.
NIIRTA Chief Executive Glyn Roberts said: "Political stability is the bottom line for sustainable economic development and so we welcome this agreement as a roadmap in moving forward both the institutions and our economy.
"We hope that it will have widest possible agreement across the political parties. It is not for us to comment on the politics of this agreement, but it is important for us to give our views on the economic aspects of it.
"At long last we have the date and rate for Corporation Tax of April 2018. It is crucial that this timetable is maintained.
"The scourge of Paramilitarism continues to be a problem for our members and our economy and we welcome the proposed Joint Agency Task Force to tackle this vital issue.
"It is positive that a new Independent Fiscal Council for Northern Ireland will be established to provide objective assessments on the NI Executive future budgets.
"A commencement date for the A5 and progress on the North-West Gateway are welcome boosts for the infrastructure of our towns west of the Bann."
Church leaders have welcomed the fact that an accommodation has been reached.
"As Church leaders, we came together in September and called on our elected representatives to place at the heart of their discussions ‘an awareness of their shared responsibility for the common good’. Today we welcome the announcement, that with the support of the two Governments, a wide ranging agreement has been reached.
"We recognise that everyone involved in the negotiations will not have achieved all that they wanted in this agreement, nor will everyone who reads it be fully content with every aspect of it.
"Such is the nature of any agreed accommodation. However, we pray that this particular accommodation reached in the interests of all, will be the basis for beginning to restore hope to those who are struggling and re-establish the trust that has been slowly ebbing from our political institutions.
"As Churches we will study the detail of The Stormont Agreement and Implementation Plan and will no doubt comment further. We also encourage it to be carefully and widely read across the community and given fair and thorough consideration.”
- Rev Brian Anderson, President of the Methodist Church in Ireland
- Archbishop Richard Clarke, Church of Ireland Archbishop of Armagh
- Archbishop Eamon Martin, Catholic Archbishop of Armagh
- Rt Rev Dr Ian McNie, Moderator of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland
- Rev Dr Donald Watts, President, Irish Council of Churches
Traditional Unionist Voice leader Jim Allister, an arch critic of power-sharing, has launched a stinging attack accusing the DUP and Sinn Fein of trying to "cling" to power.
He said: "Such was the DUP's desperation to delay an election that any deal would do.
"Sweeping murder under the carpet is the abiding message of this Sinn Fein/DUP manifesto."
Victims groups have expressed "deep disappointment and frustration" at the failure of the Stormont talks to tackle the legacy of Northern Ireland's troubled past.
The Pat Finucane Centre and Justice for the Forgotten, which represents 200 families, has accused Westminster of ignoring its obligations under human rights legislation to disclose the truth about the actions of state agents.
In a joint statement they said: "In their homes around the country, those who lost loved ones in the conflict will be privately grieving and angry at London's insistence that it must be able to redact/censor reports from the proposed Historical Investigations Unit on "national security" grounds.
"The PFC and JFF consider it totally unacceptable for the state to demand the right to conceal the actions of its agents in bombings, shootings and murders during the conflict. This was not part of the Stormont House Agreement in December 2014.
"If London had this right, it could mean that families would never discover that state agents, informers, UDR soldiers and RUC men had a role in their relatives' murders."
The Committee on the Administration of Justice (CAJ) claimed the UK Government was effectively pulling down the "national security shutter" on legacy related investigations.
Brian Gormally, CAJ's director said: "Let us be very clear - this is not a question of the 'local parties failing to agree'. It is the UK Government that has vetoed progress by demanding the right to use 'national security' to cover up the unlawful activities of its agents.
"It will use state power to give impunity to state agents. In so doing, it jettisons the interests of victims and the truth, continues its violation of international human rights standards and undermines the rule of law."