Secretary of State's speech on the new agreement: A Fresh Start - The Stormont House Agreement and Implementation Plan

The Secretary of State delivers a speech following the publication of today's agreement

The Rt Hon Theresa Villiers

This is a good day for Northern Ireland and a fresh start for its devolved institutions.

Ten weeks ago when we brought the parties back to the table we set ourselves two main objectives.

The first was the implementation of the Stormont House Agreement.

The second was to deal with continued paramilitary activity.

I believe that the agreement published today goes a long way towards fulfilling both objectives and tackling the issues that have threatened the survival of devolution over the past two years.

First, on the Stormont House Agreement.

The agreement will help give the Executive a stable and sustainable budget assisted by further financial support of around £500 million from the UK Government.

This will assist the Executive in tackling issues unique to Northern Ireland and paves the way for completion of the devolution of corporation tax powers.

Measures in the Stormont House Agreement designed to address the issues of flags and parades will go ahead.

And there’s agreement on reforms to the Executive and Assembly to make devolution work better.

Second, on paramilitary activity.

The document takes Northern Ireland’s leaders further than ever before on this issue.

It strongly reaffirms the commitment to upholding the rule of law and makes it absolutely clear that in no circumstances will paramilitary activity be tolerated.

It places new shared obligations on Executive Ministers to work together towards ridding society of all paramilitary activity and groups.

And it commits to a concerted and enhanced effort to combat organised and cross border crime.

While there is no final agreement on the new bodies to deal with the past, much progress was made and we will reflect with other participants on the way forward.

This agreement is the result of ten weeks of discussions involving literally hundreds of meetings involving all participants.

As the overwhelming majority of issues were in devolved areas, the package has rightly been driven by Northern Ireland’s political leaders in particular the First and deputy First Ministers.

But the agreement as a whole seeks to reflect the views of all of the participants in the process.

I believe that this package gives us the opportunity for a fresh start for devolution.

It’s a further stage in delivering one of the Government’s key manifesto commitments for Northern Ireland, the full implementation of the Stormont House Agreement.

And it is another step forward towards a brighter, more secure future for everyone in Northern Ireland.

Published 17 November 2015