Secretary of State, Owen Paterson has begun his first full week in post ready to help Northern Ireland build the secure and shared future that the people want, deserve and have a right to expect
Mr Paterson said:
Over the 2 and 3 quarter years I have got to know Northern Ireland very well and I am delighted and honoured that the Prime Minister has asked me to represent the interests of Northern Ireland at the heart of the government of the United Kingdom.
We are all facing huge challenges ahead, not least in addressing the economic crisis that threatens to the UK.
But, at all times, I will ensure that Northern Ireland’s needs are fully taken into account when decisions are made at Westminster and I will stand up for Northern Ireland in the Cabinet.
There will be tough decisions ahead, everyone knows that, but they will never be taken without proper regard for the particular circumstances of Northern Ireland.
Commenting on the threat from dissident republicans, Mr Paterson said:
Terrorism in Northern Ireland offers no prospect of political change, only misery. The Minister of Justice and the PSNI will have my full support in driving down on those who threaten the whole community. We must all of us - government, parties, community - send out the message that politics is the only way forward.
Mr Paterson concluded:
I am proud of the role that previous Conservative governments have played in support of the peace and political process.
I look forward to working with all those who are now working to ensure political stability for the people of Northern Ireland.