Brexit must recognise "unique circumstances" of Northern Ireland, Secretary of State says

The Stormont Assembly has not sat for a year

Brexit must recognise "unique circumstances" of Northern Ireland, Secretary of State says

Karen Bradley | Image: karenbradley.co.uk

British Conservative Party MP Karen Bradley has been appointed as the new Secretary of State for Northern Ireland.

Her appointment came after James Brokenshire resigned due to health reasons.

Speaking about her appointment as Northern Ireland Secretary, Ms Baradley said: "It is a great honour to be asked to serve as Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, particularly at such a decisive moment for Northern Ireland and the whole United Kingdom.

"I would like to pay the warmest tribute to my predecessor and friend, James Brokenshire, who did such an outstanding job. I wish him all the very best for his medical treatment and for a speedy recovery.

"Northern Ireland is a very special part of our United Kingdom and has huge potential.

"A key part of my role will be to help build a Northern Ireland that is fit for the future and works for everyone.

"In seeking to achieve that I want to work closely with all parties, the Irish Government as appropriate, and with all sections of the community. Be assured the UK government remains fully committed to the Belfast Agreement, its principles and institutions.

"Clearly, there are immediate challenges. It is now a year since Northern Ireland has had an effective, functioning power-sharing administration, and forming a Northern Ireland Executive, to deliver for the benefit of all, is my top priority.

"I believe a devolved government in Belfast is best placed to address these issues and take the key decisions which affect people’s day to day lives - whether these relate to the economy, public services or issues of policing and justice.

"We must also continue the work to deliver a Brexit that recognises Northern Ireland’s unique circumstances and avoids a hard border on the island of Ireland while maintaining the economic and constitutional integrity of the United Kingdom."

"We want government"

Sinn Féin leader in Northern Ireland, Michelle O'Neill, says her party is still "up for government".

Today marks a year since Martin McGuinness resigned as Deputy First Minister there and called for a fresh election.

Since then talks between Sinn Féin and the DUP have failed to bring about a Stormont Executive.

Ms O'Neill insists the Republican party is acting on the mandate from its voters.

"They want government here, they want a locally elected assembly, they want local ministers taking decisions - we want government also.

"But it has to be on the basis of respect of rights and integrity in (the) heart of government".

Stormont parliament buildings in Belfast | File photo

While DUP Leader Arlene has said Northern Ireland will end up under Westminster rule if Sinn Féin do not remove their red lines.

"I think an awful lot has happened in the year - two elections - we've had a very clear mandate in relation to the way forward.

"But unfortunately Sinn Féin have insisted that their red lines still exist".

Who is Karen Bradley?

Ms Bradley is a qualified Chartered Accountant and Chartered Tax Adviser.

She worked in the Conservative Policy Unit before the 2005 general election, helping to develop economic and fiscal policies.

She was selected for her home seat of Staffordshire Moorlands in July 2006 and was returned in May 2010.

She was appointed as a government minister in October 2012 and was re-elected as an MP in May 2015.

Shortly after she entered the House of Commons, she was elected to a Select Committee on Work and Pensions and later to a Procedure Select Committee.

She gave up both these positions when she was appointed as a minister in the government whips office in October 2012.

The following year she was appointed as a Lord Commissioner of the British Treasury.

In February 2014 she became Minister for Modern Slavery and Organised Crime at the UK Home Office.

In May 2015 she was re-elected as the MP for Staffordshire Moorlands and re-appointed to the Home Office, becoming Minister for Preventing Abuse, Exploitation and Crime.

She was then appointed as Secretary of State for Culture Media and Sport in July 2016.

Ms Bradley was re-elected as the MP for Staffordshire Moorlands in June 2017.