Belfast Telegraph

Northern Ireland Office recruiting for senior same-sex marriage and abortion post

Senior positions within the Northern Ireland Office (NIO) are set to deal with issues around same-sex marriage and abortion.

A spokesperson for the NIO confirmed it was recruiting for the position, but that it had "no plans to intervene in these areas of devolved competence".

"The Government does, however, receive a significant amount of correspondence on this matter (and indeed other devolved issues) from a range of interested parties, to which we need to respond.  The job description is purely illustrative of the types of sensitive issues that are raised," the spokesperson said.

In an updated on Wednesday afternoon, a spokesperson from the NIO said: "Media speculation around the nature and appointment of a number of  NIO posts is totally without foundation.  To be clear, these are not newly created posts - they are existing posts which are being filled following staff moves.

"The Government does receive a significant amount of correspondence on a variety of matters across devolved issues from a range of interested parties, and to whom it has to respond.

"The job description is purely illustrative of the types of sensitive issues that are raised. The post holder will also deal with a range of other matters including human rights and Brexit.

"There is absolutely no correlation between the recruitment of these staff and the current political process."

The story was first reported in the i newspaper.

The issue of legislating for same-sex marriage in Northern Ireland is likely to be on the agenda as talks to restore the Northern Ireland Executive resume at Stormont on Wednesday.

Newly-appointed Northern Ireland Secretary Karen Bradley has said she does not plan to "impose" same-sex marriage in Northern Ireland, despite her support for the issue.

On Tuesday she came in for criticism after drawing a comparison between legislation for same-sex marriage across the UK and the roll-out of high-speed broadband.

Speaking on Belfast radio station U105, Mrs Bradley said it would be "a matter for the elected politicians in Northern Ireland to make a decision about equal marriage".

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