Since the outbreak of street violence in early December, I have had frequent contact with the party leaders within the Northern Ireland Executive. While the situation regarding the flag protests has been calmer in recent weeks, we remain fully engaged in our support of the work of the Police Service of Northern Ireland. The persistence of sectarianism in Northern Ireland, with the absence of political agreement on how to make progress towards a truly reconciled society, contributes to the likelihood of incidents such as those we have witnessed in recent weeks. While we continue to work in support of efforts to address the root causes of sectarianism, it is vital that the rule of law is respected and that the PSNI is fully supported in implementing the rule of law.
In addition to these issues, the focus of political leadership in Northern Ireland should be on maintaining and creating jobs through economic recovery, in which inward investment and tourism play such a crucial role. The Government are ready to support the Executive and political leadership in Northern Ireland in whatever way we can.