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Secretary of State says Northern Ireland interview was 'taken out of context'

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Secretary of State Karen Bradley talks with Assistant Chief Fire Officer Michael Graham and Eastern Area Commander Aidan Jennings outside the Primark building. Photo by Simon Graham Photography

Secretary of State Karen Bradley has said that an interview which implied she didn't fully understand the political situation in Northern Ireland was "taken out of context".

In an interview with the Houses of Parliament The House Magazine, she admitted to not knowing unionists would not vote for nationalists and vice versa.

She also admitted to being "slightly scared" of the place saying it was a "very different world" to what she was used to.

"I freely admit that when I started this job, I didn’t understand some of the deep-seated and deep-rooted issues that there are in Northern Ireland," she told the magazine.

“I didn’t understand things like when elections are fought for example in Northern Ireland, people who are nationalists don’t vote for unionist parties and vice-versa.

"So, the parties fight for the election within their own community. Actually, the unionist parties fight the elections against each other in unionist communities and nationalists in nationalist communities. That’s a very different world from the world I came from.”

The Secretary of State was in Belfast on Wednesday to meet with business leaders and inspect the damage caused to the historic Primark building in the city centre following a devastating fire last month.

Mrs Bradley thanked representatives from the Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service for their work in extinguishing the fire and ensuring there were no injuries.

She said that a number of options were under consideration following the fire, but that she could not commit to any action at this stage.

Asked about the interview she said that her comments had been "taken out of context".

"The whole point is that I am here as the Secretary of State doing the job, here on the ground, meeting people, dealing with people, listening to businesses and individuals living in Northern Ireland and really focusing on getting that devolved government back up and running," she said.

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Secretary of State Karen Bradley talks with Assistant Chief Fire Officer Michael Graham and Eastern Area Commander Aidan Jennings outside the Primark building. Photo by Simon Graham Photography