NI Secretary addresses NIO royal pictures row

The Queen and Duke of Edinburgh. Credit: Presseye

Northern Ireland Secretary of State Julian Smith has addressed claims the NI Office no longer displays pictures of the Queen.

The reports of royal portraits being taken down come after the news that £10,000 compensation was paid to a civil servant offended at having to walk past such images.

While the NIO has not elaborated on its position, it says it takes its responsibilities as an employer very seriously.

Mr Smith said in a statement: “I was delighted to see a picture of Her Majesty in my office when I arrived at Stormont House for the first time.

“There are also many pictures and portraits of Her Majesty, the Duke of Edinburgh, and other members of the Royal Family on public display at Hillsborough Castle.

“The NIO also supports an extensive programme of visits by members of the Royal Family to Northern Ireland, meeting many hundreds of people and a very wide range of groups from across all communities every year.

“The NIO has delivered 12 such visits in the past twelve months, including the annual Garden Party held this year at Castle Coole.”

Mr Smith added: “I also recognise the importance of the Northern Ireland Office being an open and inclusive place to work, able to attract highly skilled people from across all parts of our community in Northern Ireland.

“As an employer in Northern Ireland, the NIO takes its obligations under the Northern Ireland Act and Fair Employment legislation seriously.”