'Karen Bradley does not understand NI's problems'

By Stephen Walker
BBC News NI Political Correspondent

image captionLord Alderdice said he did not believe Karen Bradley had "the capacity" to carry out her job

Former Alliance leader Lord Alderdice has made a scathing attack on the Northern Ireland Secretary.

The peer said Karen Bradley did not have the "capacity " for the job and "does not understand it ".

He said she should not be in the post as she did not have a "real understanding of the problems Northern Ireland has".

A government source dismissed the comments as a "transparent political attack".

Speaking in Westminster, Lord Alderdice said the minister had "said some things that are completely extraordinary".

The peer told BBC Northern Ireland that Mrs Bradley, who was appointed in January 2018, had performed very badly in her cabinet role and should be replaced.

He said: "I don't think she has done a good job. I don't think she has any real understanding of the problems Northern Ireland has.

"She has said some things that are completely extraordinary.

"She is not a bad person but she should just not be in the job because she does not understand it and she does not have the capacity to deal with it and it is allowing things to drift in a totally unsatisfactory way."

image copyrightReuters
image captionKaren Bradley has held the Northern Ireland portfolio since January 2018

In response to Lord Alderdice's comments a government source pointed out that he sits in the Lords as a Liberal Democrat and accused him of "political point scoring".

"By contrast the Secretary of State is working hard to achieve the restoration of devolved government at the earliest opportunity," they said.

"The Secretary of State is deeply committed to Northern Ireland and cares passionately about building a prosperous Northern Ireland that works for everyone.

"Under this Government employment is at record high, unemployment at record lows and Northern Ireland is now the second favourite location for foreign direct investment outside London."


She later clarified her comments saying that "where there is evidence of wrongdoing, it should always be investigated".

Karen Bradley later apologised for her comments and met relatives of those killed by the security forces during the Troubles.

At the time, a number of politicians and victims groups called for her to resign.

This was not the first time Karen Bradley had made controversial remarks as Northern Ireland secretary.

Last year, the Conservative MP gave an interview to 'The House' magazine when she said she did not comprehend that election campaigns in Northern Ireland are generally fought within each part of the community.

She said that she did not understand that nationalists did not vote for unionist parties during elections.

Northern Ireland has been without a government since January 2017, when the governing parties - the DUP and Sinn Féin - split in a bitter row.

Martin McGuinness, the then deputy first minister, resigned in protest at the handling of the botched Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) scheme.

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