British Secretary of State for Northern Ireland resigns

Britain's outgoing Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, James Brokenshire

Tánaiste Simon Coveney has paid tribute to the British Secretary of Northern Ireland after he resigned from the government.

The shock move was announced as James Brokenshire – who assumed the role in July 2016 – revealed that he was receiving treatment for a ‘small lesion’ on his lung.

The move will cast further uncertainty on the current political situation in the Ireland, with growing public support for a united Ireland and chaotic Brexit negotiations coming at a time when the Stormont Assembly is still unable to find a solution to the difficulties which saw it suspended a year ago.

“I learned with regret today that James Brokenshire has resigned as Secretary of State for Northern Ireland for health reasons,” Mr Coveney said.

“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.”

Read more about the reaction to Mr Brokenshire’s resignation in the January edition of The Irish Voice, out next week.