Prime Minister Theresa May retains confidence in Karen Bradley despite her admission that she did not initially understand Northern Irish politics, Number 10 said.
The Northern Ireland Secretary revealed she initially did not realise that the country’s nationalists did not vote for unionist parties or vice-versa when she took office.
Ms Bradley, who was appointed earlier this year, also said she not grasp some of the deep-rooted issues that define Northern Irish politics.
Downing Street refused to detail the criteria used by the Prime Minister when appointing ministers.
A Number 10 spokeswoman said: "The Northern Ireland Secretary is working incredibly hard to restore devolved government to Northern Ireland."
Asked if the PM remained confident that Ms Bradley was able to do the job, the spokeswoman replied: "Yes, she is working very closely with the parties there."
Asked how voters in Northern Ireland could have confidence in Ms Bradley, the spokeswoman replied: "I would point to all of the work that she is doing to restore devolved government to Northern Ireland."
‘I didn’t understand things’
Ms Bradley was appointed in January after her predecessor James Brokenshire stepped aside for medical reasons.
She told The House magazine: "I didn't understand things like when elections are fought for example in Northern Ireland - people who are nationalists don't vote for unionist parties and vice-versa.
"So, the parties fight for election within their own community.
"Actually, the unionist parties fight the elections against each other in unionist communities and nationalists in nationalist communities."