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Julian Smith (left) – pictured with Boris Johnson –

The Northern Ireland secretary has requested an internal review into the removal pictures of the Queen from Stormont House.

A government spokesperson said the review would report in “due course”.

Last month Lord Maginnis told the House of Lords a Northern Ireland Office (NIO) civil servant was paid £10,000 for having to walk past portraits of the Queen.

They were reportedly offended by the pictures.

Many nationalists in Northern Ireland do not regard themselves as British and would not recognise the Queen as their head of state.

It was reported that portraits of the Queen had been removed from the building in the wake of the case.

Lord Maginnis also told the House of Lords that the civil servant was consulted about what should replace the portraits and suggested including an image of her historic handshake with the former Sinn Féin deputy first minister Martin McGuinness in 2012.

But on Thursday Northern Ireland Secretary Julian Smith contradicted those claims.

He said he would not comment on Lord Maginnis’s comments but said the NIO took it obligations under the Northern Ireland Act and fair employment legislation seriously.

“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,” he said.

On Thursday, the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) called on the NIO to put back up any portraits of the Queen it took down.

Gavin Robinson, the party’s MP for East Belfast, said Mr Smith should act as soon as possible.

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Paul Faith

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It was claimed that this image replaced a portrait of the Queen

Ulster Unionist MLA Doug Beattie said a portrait of the Queen was a “symbol of sovereignty and not identity”.

“As Stormont House is the official residence of the secretary of state for Northern Ireland, it is only fitting that portraits of Her Majesty should be on display there,” he added.

The Northern Ireland Equality Commission said the display of a portrait of the Queen in a building where civil servants work was not unlawful.

“A tribunal or court would be asked to assess, whether in all of the circumstances of a case, a working environment violated an individual’s dignity or could have the effect of creating an intimidating or hostile workplace,” said the commission.

“In our experience in past cases, the issue of a royal portrait in the workplace has often been accompanied by wider harassment allegations and workplace tensions.

“The issue is all about context.”



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