Northern Ireland

Theresa Villiers says Haass talks task 'immensely difficult'

The Northern Ireland Secretary has described the task facing the talks group to be chaired by US envoy Richard Haass as "immensely difficult."

The UK government will not be at the talks table but Theresa Villiers said Westminster has a direct interest.

It may have to implement any proposals on dealing with the past.

On the past, Ms Villiers said the government will never put those who uphold the law on the same footing as those who seek to destroy it.

Politically motivated violence from whatever side, she told a British Irish Association meeting at Cambridge, was never justified.

Ms Villiers also argues that any mechanisms for dealing with the past will need to recognise the integrity of the rule of law and not be too expensive, given the UK's current economic situation.