Forming Executive 'a top priority' says new Northern Ireland Secretary Karen Bradley

Forming Executive 'a top priority' says new Northern Ireland Secretary Karen Bradley

After meeting Mrs Bradley, DUP leader Arlene Foster said the "clock was ticking" for a deal to restore devolution.

Sinn Féin's leader at Stormont, Michelle O'Neill, said they are "ready to engage" in talks but questioned if the DUP is "serious about partnership government".

"Martin McGuinness made clear there can be no denial of the rights of citizens and no return to the status quo".

The failure of the talks is pushing Northern Ireland closer towards direct rule from London.

Mrs Foster delivered the blunt message as further pressure was put on Sinn Fein to acknowledge that the IRA carried out the 1976 atrocity in which 10 Protestant workers were murdered.

"Clearly, there are immediate challenges", said Bradley.

"Obviously it's up to Sinn Fein to decide how they discipline their own members and given his previous content on social media I think perhaps it was a genuine error of judgment rather than an attempt to deliberately insult the families of victims nonetheless it was egregious and unacceptable".

Ahead of her political discussions, Mrs Bradley met students at Belfast's Metropolitan College in the city's regenerated docklands area on her first official engagement in the region.

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"To the Kingsmill families, I as the Sinn Fein leader in the north want to apologise unreservedly for the hurt and pain that has been caused over the course of the last number of days in regard to Barry's tweet", she said.

Asked if she meant to adopt a new approach to the faltering negotiation process, Mrs Bradley stressed she was still in learning mode. "While there will be many challenges in the coming weeks - which all parties will need to rise to - I will do all that I can to ensure that we find a way to restore devolution to Northern Ireland".

"I think an terrible lot has happened in the year - two elections - we've had a very clear mandate in relation to the way forward".

"We need to deliver devolved government to Northern Ireland as soon as possible and that's what I am determined to do".

Mrs Bradley said she understood the importance of dealing with the legacy of the Troubles and ensuring a safe future. My aim is to work collaboratively to find solutions to these issues acceptable to everyone. He said he would not have the "effort, energy and complete focus" needed for his role.

She will also hold talks with Irish deputy PM Simon Coveney in London on Friday.

After the 2015 general election, in which she was re-elected with 51% of the vote, she was appointed to a new role within the Home Office - minister for preventing abuse and exploitation.

"What we have to do is get down to the serious negotiations to bring about a devolved government here in Northern Ireland".

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