Northern Ireland Secretary apologises for 'deeply insensitive' comments

Northern Ireland Secretary Karen Bradley has apologised for the “offence and hurt” caused after she suggested deaths caused by soldiers and police during the Troubles were not crimes.

Ms Bradley faced calls to resign following the comments on Wednesday, which sparked criticism from victims of the security forces and nationalist political leaders, while the Irish Government sought an explanation.

In her apology, Ms Bradley said her language was “wrong” and “deeply insensitive” to many of those who lost loved ones.

Shadow Northern Ireland Secretary Tony Lloyd wrote to Ms Bradley explaining why her comments had caused such hurt.

He said: “Families who have lost loved ones to illegal killings by republican and loyalist terrorists or state actors share in the same pain irrespective of who committed the crime.

Tony Lloyd wrote to Karen Bradley

Labour say the statement is part of a “disturbing pattern”


“This pain and suffering has been compounded by the lack of truth and of justice over far too many years and your comments yesterday served only to compound this even further.”

Northern Ireland’s former police ombudsman Baroness Nuala O’Loan urged the Prime Minister to seek Ms Bradley’s resignation.

Ahead of the apology, Baroness O’Loan said: “Those comments show a complete disregard for the operation of the rule of law.

“Moreover, they also demonstrate a total lack of understanding about Northern Ireland and utter contempt for those who suffered the loss of loved ones.”

Today the Northern Ireland Secretary issued a statement and the Prime Minister was forced to say she had confidence in her.

Ms Bradley said: “Yesterday I made comments regarding the actions of soldiers during the Troubles.

Labour have said that her statement is part of a “disturbing pattern for the government”

“I want to apologise. I am profoundly sorry for the offence and hurt that my words have caused. The language was wrong and even though this was not my intention, it was deeply insensitive to many of those who lost loved ones.

“I know from those families that I have met personally just how raw their pain is and I completely understand why they want to see justice properly delivered. I share that aim and that is why I launched the public consultation on addressing the legacy of the Troubles.

“My position and the position of this Government is clear. We believe fundamentally in the rule of law. Where there is any evidence of wrongdoing this should be pursued without fear or favour whoever the perpetrators might be. That is a principle that underpins our approach to dealing with legacy issues and it is one from which we will not depart.”

But Labour have said that her statement is part of a “disturbing pattern for the government”.

The cabinet is understood to be split over whether or not to impose a statute of limitations for members of the armed forces who served in Northern Ireland.

Theresa May has said that Troubles investigations are skewed against veterans.

Karen Bradley apologised for “deeply insensitive” comments

Tony Lloyd accused both Ms Bradley and Theresa May of causing “confusion and concern with inaccurate comments around how historical cases are investigated in Northern Ireland.”


Emma Little Pengelly, who represents Belfast South for the Unionist DUP, said: “Well over 90% of the murders and injuries caused during the troubles in Northern Ireland were caused by acts of terrorism.

“Very few prosecutions and investigations are under way and innocent victims are being left behind, with thousands of unsolved cases. When will the Secretary of State address that issue and put in place a mechanism to investigate the acts of terrorism—over 90%—that caused those murders and injuries?”

Ms Bradley repeated the claims of the DUP politician and added: “Every single one of those was a crime. The under 10% that were at the hands of the military and police were not crimes; they were people acting under orders and instructions, fulfilling their duties in a dignified and appropriate way.”

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