Karen Bradley proud of her time as NI secretary

Karen Bradley has stepped down as Northern Ireland secretary and said she was proud of her achievements in Government.

She spent 18 months in the role, but failed to find agreement between the Stormont parties to restore powersharing.

She spearheaded a renewed bid to reach consensus following the shooting dead of journalist Lyra McKee by dissident republicans earlier this year.

Lyra McKee public ownership
Lyra McKee public ownership

Mrs Bradley said: “Together I am extremely proud of our achievements over the past 18 months.

“I personally regret that I will not conclude the current talks process, but I am honoured to have led the process over the past 12 weeks.

“The political parties in Northern Ireland have made important progress and shown a new determination to overcome their differences and reach an agreement.”

She was forced into an apology to Parliament for saying that deaths caused by police and soldiers during the Troubles were not crimes.

On Wednesday, Mrs Bradley said: “The legacy of the Troubles still casts a large shadow over many aspects of society and I have been humbled by the strength and dignity of the survivors.

“I would also like to salute the tremendous heroism and courage displayed by the armed forces and the police in upholding the democracy and the rule of law.

“We know that without them the peace process in Northern Ireland would never have happened and we will always remember the debt of gratitude we owe them.”

She said she was also immensely proud at securing two City Deals for Belfast and Derry/Londonderry – with £455 million of new UK government investment for Northern Ireland.

This includes the creation of a new Inclusive Future Fund in Derry.

Mrs Bradley added: “After the appalling and tragic murder of Lyra McKee on Good Friday, I personally wanted to put in place a fund to create new opportunities for young people and recognise the unique challenges facing the region.

“I was also delighted to secure £300 million of Government funding for shared integrated education, which will help thousands of pupils from all backgrounds.

“Together with £320 million from the budget 2018 for NHS funding and schools capital, and a £10 million Northern Ireland veterans fund, this is nearly £800 million in total to help build a more prosperous Northern Ireland that works for everyone, irrespective of their background.”

She added: “Now more than ever it is so important that we come together and focus on a peaceful future in Northern Ireland and continue to build on the tremendous progress made since the 1998 Belfast Agreement.”