Northern Ireland

Political reaction to Stormont talks

Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media captionPeter Robinson said there was "work that needs to be completed" while Sinn Féin's Martin McGuinness said there was "no credible financial package" on the table

Prime Minister David Cameron has left talks at Stormont in Northern Ireland saying a deal was not possible but that he had offered "financial firepower" for one.

The prime minister said he was providing what would amount to "almost £1bn of spending power for the coming years" if agreement could be reached.

The Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny said he believed the document put in front of the political parties on Thursday night addressed all of the issues.

He said the Irish and British governments would continue to be available to the parties, but that he believed the Northern Ireland politicians would be able to "conclude the outstanding issues".

There has been varied political reaction to the statements made by the two premiers.


Northern Ireland First Minister Peter Robinson

"I think that anybody who believed that in a period of 18 hours that we could reasonably have concluded negotiations on a series of issues, seriously underestimated the task that we had at hand.

"As far as we are concerned, the process continues, we have a job of work to do, the absence of the prime minister does not bring that work to an end.

"There is a responsibility placed on the parties in Northern Ireland by the electorate to get the job done and it is still the view of this party that there is work that needs to be completed."


Northern Ireland Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness

"Unfortunately, whatever you have been told by David Cameron, there was no credible financial package on offer to executive ministers to allow us to combat the austerity agenda that this government has been inflicting on us.

"Our job was to try and arrive at a financial package that would allow us to protect public service jobs and hospitals and keep teachers in schools - to provide the essential services our people deserve.

"Thus far we haven't got that. But we don't give up."


Downing Street spokesperson

"The government is absolutely committed, as the PM said yesterday morning, to taking this opportunity to move forward and make progress, but it is down to the political parties in Northern Ireland to find resolution on issues like welfare reform and so-called legacy issues.

"The offer on the table is £1bn of financial spending power. That would enable the Northern Ireland Executive and authorities to address some of the difficult reforms that they need to make.

"That is there for the taking by the political parties in Northern Ireland if they work to resolve the issues.

"There is a heads of agreement document on the table for discussion. What we need to see is progress on those issues which need to be resolved by the political parties."


Ulster Unionist Party leader Mike Nesbitt

"We have argued from the beginning that the most pressing priority in the agenda was the finances, it was clear from the moment the prime minister arrived that he was looking to the DUP and Sinn Fein to lead agreement on finances as the priority item - that has not happened.

"We are not in a good place, but it still needs to be fixed and it needs to be fixed urgently, because it now looks like corporation tax is hanging on by a thread.

"It can be saved, but if we don't save it, we could lose 30,000, 40,000, 50,000 high-paid jobs for our economy."

Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media captionUUP leader Mike Nesbitt, SDLP MP Mark Durkan and Alliance leader David Ford spoke to reporters outside Stormont

Mark Durkan, SDLP

"The prime minister has talked about that he has offered additional new money - there's clearly big differences between our education system and the English education system when the prime minister's idea of addition is when there's essentially no new money.

"The offer is essentially junk and junker based on what is being offered to us in terms of the financial commitment that would come to us from the British government."


Alliance Party leader David Ford

"We are now in a very difficult position and the fault is not entirely the fault of the two governments.

"The reality is, if you don't put forward a credible bid for finances, you can't expect a serious response from two governments.

"It's not just the issue of finance, it's the issue of responsibility about the issues that divide us, frankly issues that are just the same as they were when we met under the chairmanship of Richard Haass a year ago and which have seen very little progress since and in some matters we're in a worse position."


Ivan Lewis, shadow secretary of state

"This latest failure to reach agreement will be bitterly disappointing to people in Northern Ireland.

"David Cameron's flying visit and failure to break the political stalemate once again raises questions about the consequences of the UK government's lack of engagement in Northern Ireland over the past four years.

"There remains a window of opportunity before Christmas for all parties and the two governments to find a way forward on the budget and legacy issues such as the past and parades. This will require true political leadership and a willingness to compromise on all sides."


David McNarry, Northern Ireland UKIP leader

"The amateurs are exposed; they sit in the Northern Ireland Executive. A bunch of inept chancers caught out long before the chancellor's cuts."


Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin

"We have a political establishment in Northern Ireland, comprising DUP and Sinn Féin, each of whom is content to allow stasis and stagnation for their own, different reasons.

"In the meantime, the confidence of ordinary working families and communities in the potential of the peace process suffers. In many quarters, confidence has already turned to cynicism. This is a dangerous and depressing development."


Jim Allister, Traditional Unionist Voice leader

"These talks were never about fixing what is wrong with Stormont, but were only ever about the self-serving agenda of patching it up till it lurches to its next crisis.

"It's time to face facts. Mandatory coalition cannot and will not work. Only a coalition of the willing, manifested through voluntary coalition and challenged by an opposition, will ever succeed.

"What we need is an election with a coalition of the willing formed by those who can agree a programme for government and command the requisite majority, with those who can't agree forming the opposition. That is the only route to workable and durable devolution."


Steven Agnew, Green Party NI leader

"The executive parties should have the confidence, vision and willingness to work together for the common good - if they can't do that because of fear over their own position, maybe its time to let the people decide and give them back the power.

"I am calling on the secretary of state to publish the best compromise and put it to a vote."

More on this story