The Secretary of State for Northern Ireland has told a Parliamentary Committee that agreement on a Brexit implementation period is critical for business in Northern Ireland.

Karen Bradley was speaking before the House of Lords European Union Select Committee.

The subject of the hearing was UK-Irish relations in the context of Brexit.

Ms Bradley said that since taking up her post two weeks ago she has spoken to many business groups in Northern Ireland who have outlined their concerns about what the implications of Brexit might be.

She reiterated that she does not want to see any physical infrastructure at the border.

She said the Brexit implementation period was crucial since she wanted to ensure that Northern Ireland businesses only needed to undergo one change and had time to get used to that change, whatever it may be.

The Northern Secretary also said it was simply not tenable to have different rules between Ireland and Northern Ireland in areas such as agriculture and the electricity market.

Ms Bradley said there was a need for devolved government to be restored at Stormont as soon as possible because in many of the Brexit issues that are being discussed, Norther Ireland's voice is not being heard through official channels.  Talks to try to resume power sharing are due to get under way in Belfast tomorrow.
 

Earlier, she said the differences between the North's political parties are narrow and believes they can be bridged.

Speaking on RTÉ's Morning Ireland, Ms Bradley said the people of Northern Ireland voted for politicians and those politicians have a duty to deliver for them.

She said there is an urgency about the talks and they should take weeks and not months.

Ms Bradley added that she wanted to be able to inform Westminster of developments, including a budget for Northern Ireland, by Wednesday 7 February.

British Prime Minister Theresa May appointed Ms Bradley to replace James Brokenshire as Northern Secretary after he announced he was stepping down due to health concerns.

It is more than a year since Sinn Féin's Martin McGuinness stepped down as deputy first minister, triggering an election.

Power-sharing has not been restored since, despite extensive talks between Sinn Féin and the DUP.

Speaking in the Dáil this afternoon, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said the Government is committed to supporting the latest round of talks.

He added that Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney will attend the opening of the talks tomorrow.

The Catholic Bishop of Derry has appealed for the North's upcoming talks on power-sharing to prioritise the fate of former residents of children's institutions where abuse occurred.

Bishop Donal McKeown urged the political leaders participating in the negotiations to prioritise the full implementation of the recommendations of the report of the inquiry into historical institutional abuse which was published a year ago this week.

The inquiry's chair, Judge Anthony Hart, found that many children had suffered in state, Church and other institutions over a number of decades and recommended that the then Northern Ireland Executive institute a redress scheme.

However, in the same week as the report was published the Executive collapsed and Bishop McKeown, in his statement, says "this has meant that high hopes of redress have been dashed for a full year".