Analysis: Karen Bradley's tenure was a catalogue of embarrassments

Northern Ireland secretary Karen Bradley. Picture by Niall Carson/PA

IT’S said that you get the politicians you deserve and it could be argued that Karen Bradley was the most appropriate secretary of state for dysfunctional Northern Ireland, where we’ve failed to govern ourselves for the past two-and-a-half years.

She was ineffectual at best and at worst inept, unable or unwilling to grasp the region’s nuances and complexities.

The only surprise about her sacking was that it took so long to come.

From her fatuous confession about not realising the respective electoral loyalties of unionists and nationalists to her ignominious apology for claiming security force killings during the Troubles were “not crimes”, her tenure was a catalogue of embarrassments.

It may appear cruel to pile on the insults when she is at a political low point but even the Tories here in the north – ordinarily quite a forgiving bunch – are bidding her good riddance.

Perhaps unfairly, Mrs Bradley was thrown in at the deep end, arriving just as the negotiations to restore Stormont were climaxing early last year.

She was not responsible for their collapse but her subsequent efforts to get things back on track appeared lacklustre and half-hearted.

Yes, she was constrained by her party’s confidence and supply deal with the DUP, and its historic ties to unionism but she made no effort whatsoever to empathise with nationalism.

In the latter months of her as secretary of state, she became detached and made no effort to restore her reputation, snubbing the media for fear she would again put her foot in her mouth.

Given Mrs Bradley’s poor record, there will be higher expectations of her successor, though surely it is impossible for new incumbent to do a worse job.

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