Norwich City striker Kyle Lafferty goal “too late to help Northern Ireland’s political crisis”, says Labour MP

Northern Ireland's Kyle Lafferty (centre) celebrates scoring his side's first goal of the game durin

Northern Ireland's Kyle Lafferty (centre) celebrates scoring his side's first goal of the game during the UEFA European Championship Qualifying match at Windsor Park, Belfast. Photo: Liam McBurney/PA Wire - Credit: PA

Kyle Lafferty's injury-time equaliser against Hungary might have come too late to help ease Northern Ireland's political crisis, Labour has said.

The Norwich City striker ensured Northern Ireland secured a vital point against Hungary, with the 1-1 draw keeping his country on course to qualify for Euro 2016.

But shadow Northern Ireland minister Stephen Pound told MPs it might be too late to hope Lafferty's goal has inspired a feelgood factor which would have an impact across the nation.

Fresh talks have been scheduled in Belfast as a row over welfare spending and paramilitary activity threatens the future of the devolved Northern Ireland Assembly.

Speaking in the Commons, Mr Pound said: '(Northern Ireland Secretary Theresa Villiers) has rightly listed the challenges facing the people and politicians in Northern Ireland, but we must never ignore the progress that has been made.

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'These may be dark and dangerous times but I profoundly hope and believe that the good sense of all in Northern Ireland will prevail.

'It might be too late to hope that Kyle Lafferty's last-minute goal against Hungary last night has imbued Northern Ireland with a feelgood factor that will permeate every aspect, but surely this must be the time to reroute the march to the cliff edge and head back to sanity, forward to the peaceful and prosperous future that we all know Northern Ireland deserves.'

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Democratic Unionist Sammy Wilson (East Antrim) said: 'Rather than share (Mr Pound's) belief that some political Kyle Lafferty will pull a match-saver out of the bag, I believe that it's likely - given the attitude of some of the parties in Northern Ireland - we're more likely to have more own goals scored during these talks.'

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