Peter Robinson has branded the talks process to restore devolution in Northern Ireland as a “train wreck”.
The former First Minister called on the two main parties at Stormont to go beyond their narrow party interests.
He said: “Too much effort and time has gone into getting Northern Ireland to the stage it’s at, we simply cannot allow it to drift, people have to really roll up their sleeves and work at it.”
Mr Robinson was speaking to UTV ahead of giving a lecture at Queen’s University on the theme of restoring power-sharing.
Northern Ireland has been without a government for over 500 days now.
Mr Robinson, who is taking up his new role as honorary professor at QUB, said trust between the DUP and Sinn Féin is at an all-time low.
He called for any future talks process to be done away from the spotlight, and said the leaking of documents in the previous round of talks caused a train wreck.
Mr Robinson said Northern Ireland can’t afford another failure.
“We do need for Northern Ireland a devolution settlement,” the former DUP leader said.
“The fact that we have virtually no government at all, the absence of the Stormont institutions, the refusal of Westminster to step in, effectively means that there are literally thousands of decisions that require to be taken.
“Those are affecting the well-being of the people in Northern Ireland.”