North Secretary Karen Bradley. RollingNews.ie photo
By Irish Echo Staff
The Ancient Order of Hibernians has condemned statements made by Northern Ireland Secretary of State Karen Bradley which appear to exonerate British soldiers during the Troubles from any potential criminal proceedings.
Bradley, speaking in the House of Commons on Wednesday, and in a response to questions, said that fatal shootings by soldiers were “not crimes” because they were following orders.
She appeared to be speaking to all fatal shootings during the Troubles, and this has prompted uproar.
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Bradley has since walked back her comments and has said that she is “profoundly sorry for offence and hurt.”
But that appears to be a case of too little too late.
In a statement, the AOH, and referring to Bradley, stated: “Since her appointment, it has been manifestly evident that British Northern Ireland Secretary Karen Bradley is woefully unqualified.
“The world was amazed when the Crown’s senior official in the north of Ireland had so little understanding of the community of Northern Ireland as to be ‘surprised’ to learn that members of the Unionist community do not vote for Irish Republicans and Republicans do not vote for Unionists.
“However, while there is some hope for the redemption of ignorance, there can be no toleration of the repulsive comments which Ms. Bradley made today in the House of Commons and the beliefs that belie them.
“Ms. Bradley’s exculpation of murder when committed by servants of the state reflects a fundamental prejudice that disqualifies her to have any further administrative role in a community attempting to recover from the violent legacy of the past by restoring faith in the certainty and impartiality of justice.”
The statement continued: “For Ms. Bradley to believe that being an agent of the state gives one a license to kill without investigation or consequence is repulsive. Ms. Bradley’s blanket absolution for murders committed by British security forces, that ‘They were people acting under orders and under instruction,’ is an obscene echo of a defense the world heard in Nuremberg in 1945 and rejected.
“The Russian agents who attacked Sergei and Yulia Skripal with a nerve agent, drawing vociferous condemnation from the British government, were also acting ‘under orders and under instruction.’
“Britain has condemned the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, yet it was likely carried out by members of the Saudi security forces acting ‘under orders and under instruction’ similar to those given the murderers of lawyer Pat Finucane in Belfast.
“Britain has demonstrated a low toleration for injustice when outside of the United Kingdom, but an even lower standard of delivering justice when it comes to Northern Ireland.”
The statement added: “Though she has tried, Ms. Bradley cannot walk back her comments; they are clear and unambiguous. It was no coincidence that Ms. Bradley’s throwback to 19th century imperial jingoism was given in response to questions from members of the loyalist Democratic Unionist Party (DUP). The same DUP which was the only major party in Northern Ireland to not sign the Good Friday Agreement; the same DUP whose support Mrs. May and her Tory party need to tenuously cling to power and push through an ill-conceived Brexit.
“There is no doubt that Ms. Bradley’s inflammatory comments were well calculated to please her DUP audience; it is likely Ms. Bradley was also acting ‘under orders and under instruction’ and just as reprehensibly.
“In the age of Brexit, the British government’s Good Friday Agreement commitment to act with ‘rigorous impartiality’ in Northern Ireland has been reduced to farce.
“We are witnessing the Good Friday Agreement, one of the great triumphs of diplomacy over violence, being sacrificed on the altar of Brexit “under orders and under instruction.
“The world, and particularly the United States, must hold Britain accountable to the commitments they made over 20 years ago to enact the impartial justice expected of all civilized nations.”