Health Care

UK PM May names new Northern Ireland minister after Brokenshire resigns

Northern Ireland secretary James Brokenshire resigns from cabinet over ill-health

Unlike Mr Brokenshire, who inherited a stable Stormont even if he was being asked to negotiate Brexit, new Secretary of State Karen Bradley arrives at a point where there are limited expectations of Stormont returning in the near future.

Conservative MP for Staffordshire Moorlands, Bradley has been secretary of state for digital, culture, media and sport since July 2016.

But he said he recognised that he would not "be able to give the effort, energy and complete focus needed at this important time" and therefore believed that "the right thing at this time is for me to stand down from my current responsibilities".

It comes amid the ongoing political crisis in Northern Ireland which has seen the country in limbo without a government for a year.

A spokesman for Fermanagh Sinn Fein said: "We wish James Brokenshire well in the time ahead and hope he has a speedy recovery".

Mrs Karen Bradley also said she was "delighted to be in Belfast".

Responding to Mr Brokenshire by letter, the Prime Mini s ter wrote: "While it is typical of you that your first thought was not for yourself, but for your duties as a cabinet minister and public servant, it is absolutely right that you should put your health first, for your sake and that of your family".

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt has been seen a favourite for the job but the Prime Minister may find it hard to move him in the midst of an NHS winter crisis which has seen tens of thousands of operations cancelled.

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Mr Coveney phoned Mr Brokenshire while on a visit to Cairo to wish him well.

"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.

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".

Northern Ireland Secretary of State James Brokenshire posted a photo of himself on Twitter displaying a jersey for his favorite soccer team, West Ham United.

In November, Brokenshire was forced to begin setting a budget for the province, but he said a return to direct rule could still be avoided.

"I can assure you nobody is more disappointed or indeed frustrated with the fact that we haven't as of yet struck a deal - that we don't have the institutions back live - than all of us in Sinn Féin", she said.

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.