Belfast Telegraph

Bradley treating us with contempt, say local journalists

Controversy: Karen Bradley
Controversy: Karen Bradley

By Staff Reporter

The Secretary of State "has the utmost respect for the media" the Government has insisted after Karen Bradley was lambasted for refusing to answer questions from journalists.

She was criticised by the National Union of Journalists (NUJ) for showing "apparent contempt" by refusing to take their questions on Thursday.

Mrs Bradley did not field any queries after she gave a minute-long update on the political talks.

Tanaiste Simon Coveney spoke for 10 minutes and answered six questions.

Yesterday a Government spokesperson said: "The Secretary of State has the utmost respect for the media.

"She made clear at the beginning of the talks process however that she would not be providing a running commentary.

"It is an extremely sensitive and delicate time and the Secretary of State is focused on doing everything in her power to make a success of the talks process."

Ciaran O Maolain, a member of the NUJ's national executive and the secretary of the union's Belfast branch, told the BBC: "We all want to see progress in politics and that requires informed debate, transparency and honesty on all sides.

"For a Government minister to treat journalists with apparent contempt - refusing to take a single question when so many important issues are being discussed - does nothing to advance the political process."

Among those who criticised Mrs Bradley was UTV's political editor Ken Reid.

He tweeted: "Karen Bradley continues to refuse questions after talks sessions.

"Embarrassing. Simon Coveney has no such problem, answering the media in a respectful and serious way."

The Press Association's David Young tweeted: "Not that media were counting (we were!) but @simoncoveney 10 min press conference after latest Stormont talks was ten times longer than 60 second appearance of SoS Bradley. He took six media questions - she took none (again)."

During her spell in the Northern Ireland Office Mrs Bradley has answered journalists' queries repeatedly on a range of subjects.

But she has also been criticised over a number of her comments, including the suggestion in Parliament earlier this year that killings by British soldiers during the Troubles were not crimes. She later apologised.

More recently she was accused of using Troubles victims and survivors as political pawns after bringing the issue of their compensation into the talks process.

The Irish Government has been among those expressing confidence in her ability as minister.

The power-sharing institutions have been in deep freeze for around two-and-a-half years following a row between the DUP and Sinn Fein over the RHI botched green energy scheme.

Earlier this year Mrs Bradley was ridiculed for admitting in an interview with House magazine - a weekly Westminster publication - in the summer that she hadn't previously realised elections here were contested along orange and green lines.

"I didn't understand things like when elections are fought, for example, in Northern Ireland - people who are nationalists don't vote for unionist parties and vice versa," Mrs Bradley said.

She added: "That's a very different world from the world I came from."

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