NI Secretary Of State Resigns

Northern Ireland Secretary of State James Brokenshire has resigned.

He said the resignation is due to ill health.

It is understood he is to undergo surgery on one of his lungs.

He took up the role in July 2016 and replaced Theresa Villiers.

SDLP Leader Colum Eastwood said: "I want to send my sincere best wishes to James Brokenshire as he steps down from his position as Secretary of State to focus on his own health. I’ve always had a very good working relationship with him.

"In the course of negotiations, the SDLP has often disagreed with the position of his government but I have always found Mr Brokenshire to be personable, reasonable and, so far as possible, helpful.

"Our thoughts are with him and his family as he takes time to concentrate on his health.

"It's clear now that any new talks process aimed at restoring power sharing must be chaired by an independent arbiter. We cannot undergo the same discussions with a new Secretary of State only to arrive at the same barriers.
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"The new office holder should move quickly to appoint an independent chairperson and bring the parties together to resolve the challenges that remain. Our hospitals, schools and other public services are on the brink. It is critical that we get to work to seek a resolution now."

Alliance Leader Naomi Long MLA said: "We often disagreed, sometimes robustly, but the role of Secretary of State is mostly a thankless task and I appreciate, particularly in the current political circumstances, it is not an easy role to fulfil. On behalf of my colleagues and I, I wish James well for the future and I hope and trust he will soon return to full health.

"Obviously, this resignation, coming at a time when parties expected to be moving into a more intensive phase of negotiations about restoration, creates a break in continuity in the Northern Ireland Office.

"However, whilst any new Secretary of State will need some time to develop relationships and an understanding of the current state of play, it is important planned talks proceed as quickly as possible.

"We have been without government for too long already and must ensure this impasse is speedily resolved. Alliance stands ready to work with whomever is appointed as his successor to ensure fresh momentum and direction is injected into the search for an accommodation."

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