I know from many visits to Northern Ireland,and from experience within our own family, that society there is still deeply divided. Government at all levels has a responsibility to help people to heal the division. I can make three suggestions for government action:
1: Work on investigating and prosecuting politically motivated crimes committed before 1994 should be ended. 1994 is a significant cut-off point since it was the date of the ceasefires agreed by the main paramilitary groups then attacking each other, the security forces, and causing many civilian casualties.
2: Integrated services for the population should be developed as much as possible where that is what people want.
This is particularly true in education, where it enables children to form friendships across traditional boundaries.
3: Government should encourage work to develop a shared Northern Ireland identity, and to resolve conflicts that have lasted over many generations by processes that expose the underlying causes and seek agreement on solutions for the common good.
At present there is little agreement among the political parties about welfare reforms. Perhaps all could accept that cuts and economies should not be more harsh in Northern Ireland than those affecting areas in England and Wales, where government spending exceeds local revenue