Belfast Telegraph

Karen Bradley: Thursday was never going to be about quick solutions... we need to focus on the rebuilding of dialogue and trust

Secretary of State responds to criticism of Thursday's meeting with the parties that lasted only 45 minutes

Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Karen Bradley MP
Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Karen Bradley MP
Yesterday's coverage of Karen Bradley's meetings in Belfast

By Karen Bradley

This has been an important week for Northern Ireland. The Budget at the start of week delivered for Northern Ireland. New investment includes £350 million for the Belfast Region City Deal, £2m for Belfast city centre after the Bank Buildings fire and £320m of Fresh Start money for integrated education.

The Executive Formation and Exercise of Functions Bill received Royal Assent on Thursday. This is an important step forward to help restore a devolved government.

These are positive developments but the people of Northern Ireland deserve a locally elected, accountable and devolved government. This is my absolute priority as Secretary of State and I appreciate fully how the current impasse is unacceptable.

That is why on Thursday I wanted to bring the parties together before we publish the legislation next week. This was the first time in eight months that all of the parties were in the same room, since the last talks process failed in February.

The meeting had a clear focus - to provide the opportunity to discuss the new legislation in person.

It is a really important piece of legislation for the people of Northern Ireland, for it allows the time and space to establish a talks process without the need to call an election. It also ensures continued good governance and the delivery of public services.

There were strong views shared following the meeting but I believe equally strongly that we must discuss these important matters.

I was keen to hear the views of all the parties on a route back to a talks process, before deciding on the best way forward.

I look forward to receiving their feedback on the suggestions shared during the meeting.

Yesterday's coverage of Karen Bradley's meetings in Belfast

Thursday was never going to be about finding immediate solutions. I have been clear that we need to focus on rebuilding dialogue, trust and consensus, supported by a clear way forward.

I understand the deep frustrations of the political parties, but even more so, I understand the frustration of the people of Northern Ireland.

There is an obligation on all of us to work together and get back to local politicians making local decisions in the interests of the people who elect them.

Northern Ireland has made huge progress in recent years but we can achieve even more with a devolved government that unlocks all the potential it has to offer.

The people here have overcome many huge challenges over the years. I believe we can overcome the current impasse.

But megaphone politics will not succeed. We need to be honest and open, but it is just as important to listen as well as talk. I will continue to make this my priority and look forward to continuing my engagement with all parties and making progress in coming weeks.

Karen Bradley is Secretary of State for Northern Ireland

Belfast Telegraph


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