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Brokenshire resigns, Bradley is new North Secretary

Northern Ireland Secretary of State James Brokenshire posted a photo of himself on Twitter displaying a jersey for his favorite soccer team, West Ham United.


By Irish Echo Staff

Citing health reasons, James Brokenshire has resigned as Northern Ireland Secretary of State.

And in a cabinet reshuffle initiated by British Prime Minister Theresa May, Culture Secretary Karen Bradley has been appointed as the new North secretary.

In a letter to Prime Minister May, Mr. Brokenshire said an operation to remove a small lesion in his right lung meant he had to stand down.

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Mr. Brokenshire, who is 50, said he had been informed about the lesion "in the last few days" after a series of tests in recent weeks.

Mr. Brokenshire, married and a father of three, has been Secretary of State since July, 2016 and has been carrying out his duties in a political vacuum in Belfast after the power-sharing deal between Sinn Féin and the DUP went into suspension a year ago.

In his letter to Mrs. May, Mr. Brokenshire stated in part: “As you know, over recent weeks I have been undergoing a number of medical tests on my lungs.

“In the last few days I have been told that I have a small lesion in my right lung which needs to be removed. Clearly, my long term health and my family are my priorities and I intend to proceed with surgery at the earliest opportunity. While the operation is expected to address the issue and I will get back to work relatively quickly, recovering from surgery and regaining my strength will take several weeks.

“I recognise that this comes at an important moment for politics in Northern Ireland. I feel intently the impact on public services of the continuing absence of devolved government. There is an urgent need to re-start talks between the parties.

“We are now well into overtime to re-establish an Executive if further intervention into the day to day affairs of Northern Ireland is to be avoided.

“Securing the positive outcome for Northern Ireland and the Island of Ireland following the UK's departure from the EU will continue to be at the forefront as we enter the next stage of the negotiations. Other pressing issues also need to be addressed including the launch of the public consultation on implementing the Stormont House legacy bodies to help respond to the needs of victims and survivors of the Troubles.

“I had expected to continue to lead this essential work with renewed intent in the immediate weeks ahead. I recognise, however, that as a result of my forthcoming surgery I will not be able to give the effort, energy and complete focus needed at this important time if we are to secure the positive outcomes both you and I are committed to achieving.

“In the best interests of the people of Northern Ireland and the Government as a whole, with much regret, I believe that the right thing at this time is for me to stand down from my current responsibilities.

“It has been a huge privilege to serve in your Government and to serve the people of Northern Ireland as Secretary of State. I have very much enjoyed the role and been moved by the spirit, determination and kindness of so many people.

“Despite the challenges and the huge frustrations felt as a result of the lack of devolved government, Northern Ireland has so much potential and we can be positive as to what can be achieved in the years ahead. The parties in Northern Ireland should grab hold of this and get on with delivering this shared future benefiting the whole community.

“Rather than looking for reasons not to restore the Executive the parties should focus on why this matters now more than ever. My earnest wish is that we see devolved government restored as quickly as possible. The parties have got over much bigger issues in the past and at this important time they have a duty to do so now.”

In a statement, the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Simon Coveney said: “I learned with regret today that James Brokenshire has resigned as Secretary of State for Northern Ireland for health reasons.

“I have spoken to James on the telephone from Cairo this afternoon to wish him well and to thank him on behalf of myself and the Irish Government.

“As Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, James worked with unfailing dedication and determination to secure political progress, consistent with the objectives and commitments of the Good Friday Agreement. I want to acknowledge today the patience and leadership that James has brought to his role as Secretary of State for Northern Ireland during a very crucial time for the peace process.

“His unwavering commitment - in public and in private - over the last year to securing the effective operation of the devolved power-sharing institutions in Belfast has been hugely important.

“While it is not always obvious to the public gaze, very important progress has been made on significant issues over the last year and I believe that a positive outcome can still be achieved. If it is, it will be a testament to the quiet, understated but hugely valuable work of James Brokenshire.

“In the six months since my appointment as Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, I have worked closely with James and I have come to value and appreciate his professionalism and his friendship.

“I wished James and his family well for the period ahead and told him I hope to have the opportunity to work with him again in the future.”