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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

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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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Talks continue to resolve Northern Ireland stalemate

Talks are still under way at Stormont to resolve long standing disagreements on several issues.

Politicians in Northern Ireland have convened for a crunch round table meeting aimed at finally striking a deal on disputes destabilising the power sharing administration.

The plenary session at Stormont House involving the five Executive parties and the UK and Irish governments got under way almost 24 hours after a marathon round of negotiations started in Belfast.

The participants have long passed a deadline set by talks chair Northern Ireland Secretary Theresa Villiers, who insisted the 11 week process would not go beyond the early hours of this morning.

The round table session is focusing on a new heads of agreement document from Ms Villiers setting out areas of potential consensus.

Northern Ireland talks continue past morning deadline

Northern Ireland Secretary Theresa Villiers speaking during a press conference at Stormont yesterday. Credit: PA

Leaders in Northern Ireland have broken a political talks deadline as they continue to strive for a deal on a range of Stormont disputes.

Northern Ireland Secretary Theresa Villiers, who is chairing the negotiations in Belfast involving the UK and Irish governments and the five Executive parties, insisted yesterday's final day of discussions would not go beyond the early hours of this morning.

But the 11-week process was still going on, with no immediate end in sight, as daylight broke over the talks venue at Stormont Castle.

Stormont talks go on into the night

Politicians in Northern Ireland are negotiating through the night in a last ditch bid to secure a deal on a range of disputes de-stabilising power-sharing.

Yesterday was set as the official deadline for the eleven-week process to end, but intensive discussions pushed through past midnight and were anticipated to extend into the early morning.

The parties are trying to hammer out a deal based on a new spending package offered by David Cameron.

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