North Secretary Karen Bradley
By Ray O’Hanlon
The last thing that Northern Ireland Secretary of State Karen Bradley wants to see is a return to direct rule from London.
By contrast there are a few first things.
First and foremost a return to devolved government.
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Bradley was in the U.S. last week for St. Patrick’s Day celebrations and was a guest at the White House reception on Thursday, March 15.
In an interview with the Echo, Bradley said that her visit to Washington had been “really good” though also “intense beyond belief.”
She said that she had a number of very positive engagements with political leaders and officials and had been emphasizing in her meetings her desire, and that of the British government, to get back to devolved government at Stormont.
She said that she was certain that there was a willingness on the part of all parties to achieve this, albeit in the face of obstacles.
She believed the parties would be prepared to get back together in order to achieve an agreement.
“We had made good progress,” she said of the last round of talks that ended with no agreement on several major issues.
Bradley stated the view that the economy in Northern Ireland was in good shape but that the best way of maintaining this was devolved government. Direct rule, she said, was “not the way.”
Investors, she said, wanted to see stability, but direct rule did not amount to stable government in the Northern Ireland context.
Rather, she said, it would be “distant government.”
For jobs, prosperity and wealth, she said, devolved government was the only answer.
Asked about concerns being raised over boundary commission redistricting of constituencies in the North, Bradley said that the commission was an independent body and that “nobody was interfering in the process.”
“Any suggestion of interference is wrong,” she said.
There was “no gerrymandering” afoot and the process of redrawing constituencies in Northern Ireland was being carried out in the same way that was occurring in England and Wales.
Of her U.S. visit she said: “Very exciting, an amazing few days meeting with people who care.”