Old Bexley and Sidcup MP James Brokenshire resigns from government

DUP leader Arlene Foster with colleagues Simon Hamilton and Edwin Poots, speak with the media after talks with new Secretary of State for Northern Ireland Karen Bradley

Karen Bradley, who represents the English constituency of Staffordshire, was formerly the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport.

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.

"Despite the challenges and the huge frustrations felt as a result of the lack of devolved government, Northern Ireland has so much potential and we can be positive as to what can be achieved in the years ahead".

Sinn Féin leader in Northern Ireland, Michelle O'Neill, says her party is still "up for government".

In an apparent signal that he may be in line for a return to government once he has recovered after surgery, the prime minister said Mr Brokenshire would have continued to do "a good job" had it not been for his illness.

"We are now well into overtime to re-establish an executive if further intervention in the day to day affairs of Northern Ireland is to be avoided".

"The new Secretary of State must also be a strong advocate for the region's economic interests - ensuring Northern Ireland's unique vulnerability to a "no deal" Brexit is fully understood across the corridors of Whitehall".

The word is in keeping with a managerial style of politics which saw him act as an emissary of the prime minister, giving little away about his own views or priorities.

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Mr Coveney is now on a visit to the Middle East and will stop over in London on his way back to Ireland.

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

Mr Brokenshire took the role in July 2016, replacing Theresa Villiers.

DUP leader Arlene Foster added: "This is clearly a hard time for not only James but for Cathy, his wife and his children".

Warm tributes have been paid to Mr Brokenshire, with both political allies and opponents sending him best wishes as he deals with his health issues.

Owen Smith, Shadow of State for Northern Ireland, said he was very sorry to hear Mr Brokenshire had left the cabinet and joined those in wishing him a speedy recovery.

"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.

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