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New secretary of state appointed following reshuffle

New secretary of state appointed following reshuffle

When she was named culture secretary after Ms May became prime minister in 2016, the cultural and sports worlds initially rejoiced.

A crucial post that needed filling was the role of First Secretary of State following the recent departure of Damian Green, a close ally of May who was forced to resign just before Christmas following a breach parliamentary code.

Mr Brokenshire - who turned 50 on Sunday - stood down on Monday ahead of British PM Theresa May's cabinet reshuffle and revealed that he is to undergo surgery for a lung condition.

That has resulted in a unprecedented purgatorial existence for Northern Ireland where there is no government but civil servants continue to run public services and either take political decisions or leave key decisions untaken. Get on with recovery and get back to my duties as MP for Old Bexley and Sidcup and also back to frontline political duties as well.

Asked for her reaction to the postponement of the meeting between Mrs Bradley and Mrs O'Neill, the DUP leader said: "It's another indication that all is not well in Sinn Fein and they are a party in disarray at present".

Mrs Bradley is the Conservative MP for the English constituency of Staffordshire Moorlands but has little experience of Northern Ireland politics.

Mr Coveney phoned Mr Brokenshire while on a visit to Cairo to wish him well.

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He said: "His unwavering commitment - in public and in private - over the previous year to securing the effective operation of the devolved powersharing institutions in Belfast has been hugely important".

Brokenshire took the role of secretary of state in July 2016, a few weeks after Britain's vote to leave the European Union.

While the circumstances of his leaving are unfortunate, Mr Brokenshire's time in the north will be seen as well meaning but ultimately ineffective in terms of securing the restoration of the executive.

"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".

Karen Bradley has been appointed as the new secretary of state for Northern Ireland and has vowed to tackle the "immediate challenges" of Brexit, avoiding a hard border and forming an Executive.

"A key part of my role will be to help build a Northern Ireland that is fit for the future and works for everyone", she said.

"I know there are challenges but I am determined we will find a way through those challenges".

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