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Page last updated at 08:09 GMT, Friday, 20 August 2010 09:09 UK

NI Secretary: 'Political violence does not achieve its aim'

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Northern Ireland Secretary Owen Paterson has ruled out talking to dissident republican groups if they continue to carry out attacks.

"We cannot talk to people who are still trying to kill 12-year-olds and two-year-olds as they did last week," he told Today presenter James Naughtie.

Outlining the government's position on the recent outburst of violence, he said it did not underestimate the risk posed by the small number of people committed to violence and condemned last week's attack in Lugan as "disgusting".

"Political violence does not achieve its aim," he said.

He stressed, however, that there had to be "balance" in dealing with the situation, accepting that long term issues of unemployment, economic balance and education needed to be addressed to prevent the radicalisation of Northern Ireland's young people.

"Northern Ireland has come an enormous long way in the last 20 years," he said, arguing that the government was "not complacent about the problem".


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