Page last updated at 13:41 GMT, Thursday, 13 May 2010 14:41 UK

NI leaders talk to Prime Minister David Cameron

David Cameron
David Cameron spoke to the First Minister and the deputy First Minister

The First Minister and the Deputy First Minister have spoken separately to the Prime Minister David Cameron.

Peter Robinson discussed a number of issues, including the Presbyterian Mutual Society.

The Deputy First Minister Martin McGuiness raised the issue of planned budget cuts and called for the swift publication of the Saville Report.

The new Secretary of State for Northern Ireland Owen Paterson will travel to NI on Thursday.

A Downing Street spokesman said the Prime Minister had spoken to Peter Robinson and Martin McGuinness on Wednesday night.

"David Cameron praised the work of his predecessors, as well as the first minister and deputy first minister in laying the foundations for peace in Northern Ireland.

"In both calls, he underlined his commitment to economic and political stability in Northern Ireland and made clear his strong support for devolution of policing and justice.

"The prime minister looks forward to working closely with both the first and deputy first minister in the weeks and months ahead".

Mr Paterson will travel to Belfast after he attends the first Cabinet meeting.

Speaking ahead of his visit, Mr Paterson said Northern Ireland will have to play its part with the rest of the UK when it came to spending cuts.

We want to rebalance the Northern Ireland economy and that will take at least 25 years
Owen Paterson
Secretary of State

"I have said consistently that NI does have very different circumstances in that over 70% of its GDP is spent on public spending and it would be irresponsible to do nothing about that but equally irresponsible to do anything too drastic and too rapid.

"What we want to do is grow the private sector. We want to rebalance the NI economy and I have said, that will take at least 25 years.

"I coined the phrase, "turn Northern Ireland into an enterprise" so I will be looking at measures where we can liaise closely with devolved ministers to see how we can really boost the private sector."

On Thursday, Mr McGuinness said that "we would expect that this Conservative government will be on a very steep learning curve in recognising they must stick very closely to, and remain loyally and true, to the Good Friday Agreement, the St Andrews Agreement, and the Hillsborough Agreement".

"That's what we're asking, because those agreements, if people keep their word and keep true to, will see us through in the end," he said.

The SDLP Leader Margaret Ritchie hopes to meet the new secretary of state shortly.

She said he may find himself having to build bridges given the Tories pact with the UUP in the election.

The Alliance leader David Ford also spoke to Mr Paterson. They discussed the relationships between the Northern Ireland Office and the Department of Justice.

Mr Paterson was appointed shadow Northern Ireland secretary in July 2007.

The 53-year-old was probably one of the most well travelled Conservative spokesman during the last three years, visiting Northern Ireland every week.

He becomes the first Conservative secretary of state since 1997 when Sir Patrick Mayhew held office in John Major's administration.

The prime minister is expected to visit Northern Ireland next week as part of his tour of the UK.



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