Secretary Of State Addresses Queen's Portrait Row

Secretary of State Julian Smith has dismissed claims that all pictures of the Queen have been removed from the Northern Ireland Office in Belfast.

His comments that he was "delighted" to see a picture of Her Majesty in his Stormont House office follow reports that all portraits of the monarch have been removed from the building, as published by the News Letter.

It comes after Lord Maginnis told the House of Lords that an NIO civil servant received £10,000 in compensation for having to walk past pictures of the Queen.

Mr Smith said in a statement: "I was delighted to see a picture of Her Majesty in my office when I arrived at Stormont House for the first time.
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"There are also many pictures and portraits of Her Majesty, the Duke of Edinburgh, and other members of the Royal Family on public display at Hillsborough Castle.

"The NIO also supports an extensive programme of visits by members of the Royal Family to Northern Ireland, meeting many hundreds of people and a very wide range of groups from across all communities every year.

"The NIO has delivered 12 such visits in the past twelve months, including the annual Garden Party held this year at Castle Coole."

Mr Smith added: "I also recognise the importance of the Northern Ireland Office being an open and inclusive place to work, able to attract highly skilled people from across all parts of our community in Northern Ireland.

"As an employer in Northern Ireland, the NIO takes its obligations under the Northern Ireland Act and Fair Employment legislation seriously."


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