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Karen Bradley refuses to rule out Northern Ireland direct rule

 

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During an urgent question in the House of Commons, Karen Bradley was asked whether she would consider introducing full direct rule.

During an urgent question in the House of Commons, Karen Bradley was asked whether she would consider introducing full direct rule.

During an urgent question in the House of Commons, Karen Bradley was asked whether she would consider introducing full direct rule.

The Secretary of State for Northern Ireland has refused to rule out implementing direct rule amid the current political stalemate.

Northern Ireland has been without a functioning Executive since the collapse of the power-sharing institutions in January 2017.

During an urgent question in the House of Commons, Karen Bradley was asked whether she would consider reverting to Westminster rule for the benefit of the public, however she did not answer the question directly.

Former Northern Ireland Secretary Owen Paterson said there was a need for "political direction".

"There comes a point where I think we are responsible for the lives of citizens in Northern Ireland," he added. 

"And I ask the Secretary of State, although very reluctantly, has she begun to consider taking powers back into this House, for what one would hope would be a brief period, to deliver public benefits?"

Ms Bradley said she "shares his exasperation that the parties have been unable to come together to find an agreement".

"My priority is finding that basis, finding the way for the parties to come together, because there is no good, long term, sustainable way that decisions can be made for the people of Northern Ireland except if locally-elected politicians make them," she added.

There is nothing the people of Northern Ireland deserve more, than the politicians they elected locally, making decisions on their behalf. Karen Bradley

Labour's shadow Northern Ireland Secretary Tony Lloyd said the shutdown of the Assembly meant a "failure of political decision-making", which has seen health standards fall and stated patients are being "let down and ultimately people will die earlier".

He said it is having an impact on education as well as policing, but said the biggest area of concern is "reconciliation", and the having the institutions in place after the Good Friday Agreement so that could happen.

Mr Lloyd finished by saying "the country is at a crossroads", and unless a way forward could be found "this House will have to start making those decisions", acknowledging this was not what either side wants.

Ms Bradley replied: "There is nothing the people of Northern Ireland deserve more, than the politicians they elected locally, making decisions on their behalf."

But she again avoided the issue of whether the UK Government at Westminster would need to take control of the running of Northern Ireland services.

Belfast Telegraph