Belfast Telegraph

Northern Ireland Secretary of State Karen Bradley: I back same-sex marriage but I won't impose it

By Rebecca Black

New Secretary of State Karen Bradley has confirmed she supports same-sex marriage - but has insisted that any decision to extend that legislation here will be made by local politicians.

It is one of several thorny issues holding up the restoration of Stormont, with the DUP and Sinn Fein holding opposing views on the matter.

In 2013 Mrs Bradley voted in Westminster in favour of allowing same-sex couples to marry in England and Wales.

Speaking to the media yesterday, she reiterated her personal view in favour of same-sex marriage, but insisted she would not "impose it" here.

"I am a supporter of same-sex marriage, I voted for it, but that is a matter for the people of Northern Ireland and that's a decision that needs to be taken by the people elected by the people of Northern Ireland," she said.

"I am not here to impose any of those things, I am here to help facilitate a government of the people of Northern Ireland, the representatives of the people of Northern Ireland delivering for the people of Northern Ireland."

The Secretary of State also answered questions about the DUP's £1bn 'confidence and supply' deal with the Conservative Party.

When asked whether the money was contingent on devolution being restored, she said: "We need to do budgets, and budgets require ministers to administer those budgets.

"It's really clear to me that civil servants are doing an amazing job delivering the best they can in public services in Northern Ireland, but they need ministerial direction in order to do that - a budget that needs administered needs ministers to administer it.

While she agreed that "it needs Stormont to do that", she responded to a later question by admitting that direct rule ministers could also deliver the £1bn promised under the deal.

"There are no ministers in place, that's the situation as it stands today," she added.

"We need ministers in place to be able to deliver a budget, and I am determined they will be locally elected ministers.

"I am determined they will be MLAs elected by the people of Northern Ireland because that is what is right for the people of Northern Ireland."

Meanwhile, she wouldn't comment on calls by TUV leader Jim Allister to withdraw expenses claims by Sinn Fein's abstentionist MPs.

"Those are matters for independent parliamentary standards authorities and the House of Commons," she said.

"I don't represent either of those and it wouldn't be right for me to comment."

Mrs Bradley also hinted about her views on whether MLAs should continue to be paid despite Stormont being in limbo.

"As a politician myself I work very hard to make sure I justify my pay, so I'll say no more than that," she said.

Belfast Telegraph

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