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Northern Ireland Secretary welcomes 'genuine step forward'

Theresa Villiers alongside Irish foreign minister Charlie Flanagan.

Northern Ireland Secretary Theresa Villiers says today's deal at Stormont is a "genuine step forward" for the region".

Appearing alongside Irish foreign minister Charlie Flanagan, who was also instrumental in the negotiations, Ms Villiers said:

We've put on the table a draft agreement for the parties, taking on board many hours of discussions and that draft agreement was positively received.

I believe this is a genuine step forward, real progress on some of the most critical issues for Northern Ireland and I'd like to express my strong thanks to all of Northern Ireland's political leaders who have participated in this process.

– Theresa Villiers

Sinn Fein hail 'remarkable' N Ireland agreement

Martin McGuinness and Gerry Adams after the conclusion of the talks. Credit: Brian Lawless/PA Wire

Senior Sinn Fein politicians have expressed their satisfaction at the agreement reached today between Northern Ireland's political parties and the British government.

Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness said it was particularly important that the region's politicians were able to protect vulnerable people from what he called the "austerity approach" of the UK's coalition government.

Speaking to reporters at Stormont, he said:

We're proud of our achievement, I think it is remarkable that we managed against all odds, when people told us it couldn't be done to achieve this in the interests of those [vulnerable] people. I think that is something to be proud of.

– Martin McGuinness

Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams also hailed the "considerable progress" made during the talks, but stressed that the negotiations were "a process" that was ongoing.

Prime Minister welcomes Northern Ireland agreement

Prime Minister David Cameron has welcomed a deal reached by politicians in Northern Ireland to resolve an ongoing political stalemate.

Mr Cameron said the agreement will allow the country to "enjoy a brighter, more prosperous future".

N Ireland's First Minister: Deal 'monumental step forward'

Northern Ireland's First Minister Peter Robinson said the deal 'outlines the way forward'. Credit: Niall Carson/PA

Northern Ireland's First Minister Peter Robinson said an agreement reached by politicians at Stormont is "a monumental step forward" for the country.

Speaking after the deal was reached following several hours of talks, Mr Robinson conceded that the agreement did not address all of the outstanding issues but he said it was "a road map for the way forward".

He added that the issues that were being discussed had frustrated Northern Ireland for years but he was confident that all of the parties would "make good on their promises".

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