NI Secretary Karen Bradley to hold talks with party leaders

By Jayne McCormack
BBC News NI Political Reporter

Media caption,
'We have heard your hollow apologies'

Northern Ireland Secretary Karen Bradley has said she intends to hold discussions with Stormont's party leaders this week in a bid to restore power-sharing.

Her statement in Parliament follows the murder of journalist Lyra McKee.

She said the government's "clear and overriding objective" must be the restoration of the political institutions.

Mrs Bradley had previously said she plans to look at calling fresh talks after the council election on 2 May, but several Stormont parties have called for "urgent" talks in light of last week's events.

On Tuesday, the Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney met Sinn Féin and had contact with several other Stormont parties to discuss the current political situation.

Image source, PA
Image caption,
Mrs Bradley with the Lord Mayor of Londonderry John Boyle

Mrs Bradley made a private visit to Londonderry on Saturday to sign a book of condolence for Ms McKee.

She said it was with "great sadness" that she had to raise the killing of the 29-year-old in the Commons.

"We will continue to strive for peace in Northern Ireland," she said.

"We are behind you in rejecting those who seek to undermine peace with terror. They have no place in our society."

Mrs Bradley said to those responsible for the death of Ms McKee: "We have heard your excuses and apologies.

"No-one buys it. This was no accident."

She also urged anyone with information about the murder to contact the police, and said that Northern Ireland politicians needed to take charge.

Image source, Getty Images
Image caption,
Lyra McKee was shot while observing rioting in Londonderry

Mrs Bradley is due to attend Ms McKee's funeral on Wednesday, along with a number of people from Labour's shadow Northern Ireland team.

Shadow NI secretary Tony Lloyd told the Commons he welcomed the fact that all the Stormont leaders had signed a joint statement on Friday, condemning the murder of Ms McKee.

The Irish government will have representatives at the funeral, including Taoiseach (Irish PM) Leo Varadkar and Irish President Michael D Higgins.

Mr Coveney will also be in attendance.

It is understood his team has reached out to some of the smaller Stormont parties to discuss a potential meeting on Wednesday.

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