Tributes across the Northern Ireland political spectrum for ex-Secretary of State

The death of James Brokenshire has drawn tributes from across the political spectrum in Northern Ireland.

Senior politicians in the Republic of Ireland have also expressed their condolences to the late Conservative MP who served as Northern Ireland Secretary for 18 months, stepping down in January 2018 after being diagnosed with lung cancer.

The period coincided with the collapse of power-sharing in Stormont – due to a row between the main parties over a botched green energy scheme – and much of Mr Brokenshire’s time in office has been dominated by efforts to restore crisis-affected institutions.

Former DUP leader and Stormont First Minister Arlene Foster, one of the key players in this period of intense political upheaval in the region, described him as “one of the good ones”.

“I am so shocked and saddened by the death of James – one of the good guys in politics who handled his diagnosis with such grace,” she said.

“I of course send my love and prayers to Cathy and their children and to all of her colleagues and friends.”

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James Brokenshire and former Prime Minister Theresa May meet ex-Prime Minister Arlene Foster and the late Deputy Prime Minister Martin McGuinness (Liam McBurney/PA)

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James Brokenshire and former Prime Minister Theresa May meet ex-Prime Minister Arlene Foster and the late Deputy Prime Minister Martin McGuinness (Liam McBurney/PA)

Sinn Fein Vice President and current Deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill said: “Sad news. My thoughts and prayers are with the family of James Brokenshire.

Current DUP leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson tweeted: “This is desperately sad news. James was one of the nicest people I’ve worked with in politics.

“He often spoke warmly of his time in Northern Ireland as Secretary of State.

“My thoughts and prayers are with his dear wife Cathy and his Conservative Party colleagues.”

Irish Prime Minister Taoiseach Micheal Martin, who was visiting Belfast on Friday, welcomed Mr Brokenshire’s commitment.

“He was a dedicated politician and civil servant whose sincerity and commitment always shone through, particularly in his work in Northern Ireland,” he said.

“He brought integrity, energy and commitment as Secretary of State, and was a constructive partner to the Irish Government throughout.

“My sincere condolences to his wife Cathy, his children and the entire family.”

Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney also took to Twitter to convey his condolences.

“Deeply saddened to learn of the passing of James Brokenshire,” he wrote.

“Working with him as (Secretary) of State for NI, his dedication and commitment shone through. A true public servant who made a real positive impact. My thoughts are with his family at this very difficult time.”

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James Brokenshire with Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney (Niall Carson/PA)


James Brokenshire with Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney (Niall Carson/PA)

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James Brokenshire with Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney (Niall Carson/PA)

Former Foreign Secretary Charlie Flanagan said: ‘In all my dealings with him I have found him courteous and a politician with a strong sense of duty and integrity. He was a person of character, someone you could trust. »

SDLP leader Colum Eastwood described Mr Brokenshire as a ‘willing negotiator, a committed minister and a good man’.

“It’s very sad news today,” he said.

“James faced the news of his illness with immense courage and a genuine determination to heal for his family and return to the work he loved – representing people.”

Ulster Unionist leader Doug Beattie said: ‘I am shocked at the incredibly sad news of the death of James Brokenshire. James was an honorable and courageous man who served with distinction as Secretary of State for Northern Ireland.

“My thoughts are with his family and friends during this difficult time.”

Alliance Party Leader and Stormont Justice Minister Naomi Long tweeted: ‘He was a true gentleman to work with and we all wished him well in his battle with lung cancer which he bravely went through fought.

“My thoughts are with his wife Cathy, his 3 children and his friends and colleagues at this very sad time.”

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