Former secretary of state James Brokenshire has said he understands the "anger and frustration" over the lack of a devolved government in Northern Ireland.
Mr Brokenshire also said his absence from office during a health scare earlier this year may have contributed to the political instability.
He met council leaders in Londonderry on Tuesday about a potential city deal.
It was his first time back in Northern Ireland since standing down in January.
"I feel keenly the absence of a devolved government and look back with personal disappointment that I had to stand down because of my lung cancer, which needed surgery," Mr Brokenshire said.
"I was saddened that it came at a time of political instability here and how my absence contributed to that."
He called on those who had a stake in Northern Ireland to "redouble" their efforts to get the institutions up and running again.
Asked if assembly members' salaries should be cut, he said it was now a matter for the current Northern Ireland Secretary Karen Bradley.
He also said he wanted the vision of a city deal in Derry and Strabane to become a reality.
Growth and jobs
Chancellor Phillip Hammond announced last month that the government will consider proposals for a city deal.
The special status gives local areas specific powers to help support economic growth and job creation.
A similar proposal was announced for Belfast in the Budget last year.
Mr Brokenshire had previously given his support to a city deal during his time as Secretary of State for Northern Ireland.
He stepped down from that post in January on health grounds and underwent surgery to remove a lesion from his lung.
Karen Bradley then took over the role as Northern Ireland secretary and chaired a fresh round of Stormont talks, which collapsed in February
Mr Brokenshire returned to the government front bench in April as Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government.