Theresa Villiers to remain secretary of state for North

David Cameron tweets confirmation that minister will continue in her position

The Secretary of State for Northern Ireland Theresa Villiers. UK prime minister David Cameron has confirmed that Ms Villiers is to continue in her position.  File photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill/The Irish Times

The Secretary of State for Northern Ireland Theresa Villiers. UK prime minister David Cameron has confirmed that Ms Villiers is to continue in her position. File photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill/The Irish Times

 

The secretary of state for Northern Ireland Theresa Villiers is to continue in her position. The news was confirmed when UK prime minister David Cameron this afternoon tweeted that she will “remain as Secretary of State for Northern Ireland”.

Her chief and most immediate task when she returns to Hillsborough Castle will be to try to devise a strategy that prevents the collapse of the Northern Executive and Assembly.

Stormont politics are currently deadlocked over Sinn Féin’s refusal to sign up to the British government’s proposals on welfare reform. If the stand-off is not broken there is a real possibility that the Stormont institutions won’t be able to function, which could precipitate a return to direct rule from Westminster.

Stormont House Agreement

At the weekend, Ms Villiers called on politicians in the North to press ahead with the Stormont House Agreement, which was agreed at Christmas but which Sinn Féin subsequently reneged from, claiming it had been duped on the welfare proposals.

Ms Villiers said the Stormont House Agreement contained a generous financial package and should be implemented.

“The Stormont House Agreement needs to be enforced, it needs to be delivered,” she said.

Villiers appointment

Theresa Villiers was appointed as Northern secretary in September 2012. She took over from Owen Paterson, following a cabinet reshuffle by David Cameron.

She was previously an MEP and a Conservative MP for Chipping Barnet. She also worked as a barrister.

Ms Villiers stated over the weekend that she would be “happy” to keep the position.

“It is a fascinating job. I think it has gone well. I would be happy to do it, or any other role.”

Additional reporting: Agencies