This morning I met the leaderships of Sinn Fein and the Democratic Unionist Party to discuss the ongoing political stalemate in Northern Ireland.
I made clear the determination of this Government to re-establish the fully functioning, inclusive devolved administration that works for everyone in Northern Ireland.
I also reiterated our steadfast support for the Belfast Agreement and its successors. For their part both the DUP and Sinn Fein expressed their commitment to seeing Stormont back up and running.
From our discussions it is clear that the issues dividing the parties are relatively small in number, focusing mainly around culture, legacy, identity and the future stability of the devolved institutions.
While not in any way underestimating the challenges involved, I believe that a way forward can be found and an agreement reached.
It is therefore imperative that the parties re-engage in intensive discussions next week aimed at resolving the outstanding issues so that the Assembly can meet and an Executive be formed.