The Secretary of State, Theresa Villiers chaired a meeting of the Northern Ireland party leaders this afternoon, to discuss current developments on welfare reform and the implementation of the Stormont House Agreement.
Afterwards she said:
Today’s meeting was constructive and I am encouraged that progress is being made. It is essential that a resolution is reached quickly on this dispute over how the welfare provisions of the Agreement will be implemented, so that the legislation on changes to the welfare system in Northern Ireland can complete its passage through the Assembly.
This was the strong message heard this week in Washington from the President, Vice President and right across the Administration.
I urge the parties to continue working together to maintain the positive progress made so far in implementing the Stormont House Agreement. If this dispute is not resolved it would jeopardise the whole package, including the £2 billion additional spending power, new institutions on the past, and the transfer of powers over corporation tax. It would also see a revival of the serious budget crisis which hit Stormont in the autumn.