Karen Bradley appointed Northern Ireland Secretary

Karen Bradley appointed Northern Ireland Secretary

Northern Ireland has been without a regional government for nearly a year, destabilising the delicate balance between Irish nationalists and pro-British unionists that has been shaken by Britain's June 2016 vote to leave the European Union.

In a letter to the Prime Minister, Mr Brokenshire said it had been "a huge privilege" to serve the people of Northern Ireland.

SDLP leader Colum Eastwood has called on James Brokenshire's successor as Secretary of State for the North to appoint an independent arbiter to chair talks aimed at the restoration of the Northern Ireland Executive.

It is a year since the late deputy first minister Martin McGuinness resigned from Stormont in protest at the DUP's handling of the botched renewable heat incentive scheme.

If a solution to the impasse can not be found, the region faces a new election or direct rule from Westminster.

Prior to working in politics, Ms Bradley spent 20 years working in business, with roles as an accountant and tax manager for firms including KPMG and Deloitte & Touche.

In February 2014 she became minister for modern slavery and organised crime at the Home Office.

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She has been culture secretary since July 2016.

She introduced the Serious Crime Act to tackle organised crime and secured the passage of the Modern Slavery Act.

"Clearly, there are immediate challenges", said Bradley.

Everyone will wish him well in the months ahead.

In November, Brokenshire was forced to begin setting a budget for the province, but he said a return to direct rule could still be avoided.

"In the coming days, I look forward to meeting many different people, parties and other groups as I take on this hugely important and exciting role in the Prime Minister's government".

She said she would work with all parties and the Irish government to help break the political impasse.

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