New SOS first visit to Northern Ireland

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A crucial post that needed filling was the role of First Secretary of State following the recent departure of Damian Green, a close ally of May who was forced to resign just before Christmas following a breach parliamentary code.

"It is fitting my first visit should be to Titanic Quarter, which reflects both Belfast and Northern Ireland's past and its future".

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. She welcomed the ministers commitment to restoring devolution.

"They want government here, they want a locally elected assembly, they want local ministers taking decisions - we want government also". Everyone in Northern Ireland is suffering because of the current vacuum.

"It has been a huge privilege to serve in your Government and to serve the people of Northern Ireland as Secretary of State".

She added: "The clock is ticking in relation to the government of Northern Ireland, we haven't had a government now for over a year. Not quite how I thought I'd mark my 50th birthday!"

"We are now well into overtime to re-establish an Executive if further intervention into the day to day affairs of Northern Ireland is to be avoided. So time is short and the clock is ticking".

SDLP Leader Colum Eastwood MLA met with Mrs Bradley and discussed a constructive way forward.

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Mrs Foster claimed the reschedule was linked to criticism the republican party has received since one of its MPs posed with a Kingsmill branded loaf on his head on the anniversary of the 1976 Kingsmill massacre last Friday.

Born in Newcastle-under-Lyme in 1970, Bradley moved to Buxton in Derbyshire when her family took over a hotel there and she went to the local comprehensive school.

Ms Bradley met students at Belfast's Metropolitan College in the city's regenerated docklands area on her first official engagement in the region.

Northern Ireland remains without a functioning executive, nearly 12 months to the day that that Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) and Sinn Féin led coalition fell apart follow the resignation on 9 January 2017 of the late Martin McGuinness as deputy first minister.

In a statement she said: "My immediate challenge and key objective is to ensure that Northern Ireland has a devolved government in place in order to address the issues that affect everyone's lives, including health, education and the economy".

"I'm here to learn, I'm here to find out, I'm here to look at what needs to be done".

A relative unknown in Northern Ireland, Mr Brokenshire stepped into the spotlight, calling for snap elections for the Northern Ireland Assembly, early a year ago following the resignation of Sinn Fein's Martin McGuinness.

Speaking about her appointment, Ms Baradley said: "A key part of my role will be to help build a Northern Ireland that is fit for the future and works for everyone".