Northern Ireland

Peter Hain says David Cameron 'not engaged enough' with Northern Ireland

A former Northern Ireland Secretary has accused the prime minister of not engaging "closely or energetically enough" with Stormont politicians.

Labour's Peter Hain said "constant care and attention" by David Cameron was needed.

Talks aimed at resolving difficulties among the five parties in the devolved government are under way in Belfast.

Mr Hain said the situation was "undermining already shaky local faith" in elected politicians.

"I know Northern Ireland needs constant care and attention from No 10 and I hope it will now get that," he said during Northern Ireland questions in the House of Commons.

Current Northern Ireland Secretary Theresa Villiers said she could assure him that Northern Ireland did get constant care and attention from Mr Cameron.

She said: "Not just with his decision to bring the G8 to Northern Ireland, but every day in focusing on the security situation and on repairing the Northern Ireland economy and, of course, closely following these talks.

"I agree it is vital we don't let disputes about parades, painful though they are, get in the way of the need to reach resolution on important issues like the budget, like flags and like a reform of parading decisions in the future."

East Belfast MP Naomi Long said the talks will fail if other parties do not demonstrate more will to resolve the issues of budgets, flags, parades and the past .

Mrs Long said the talks, which are chaired by Ms Villiers, had been characterised so far by "petty squabbling and failure to even agree who is participating".

She said the public is "already utterly frustrated at the inability to reach a consensus" and that there should be sanctions for parties "who fail to engage seriously and show leadership".

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