Anger mounts over Bradley statements

Congressman Brendan Boyle


By Irish Echo Staff

Angry reaction on both sides of the Atlantic continues to mount following remarks by Northern Ireland Secretary of State Karen Bradley with regard to the legal culpability of British soldiers who killed people during the Troubles.

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 the soldiers were following orders.

Sign up to The Irish Echo Newsletter

Sign up today to get daily, up-to-date news and views from Irish America.

Bradley has since walked back her comments and has said that she is “profoundly sorry for offence and hurt.”

She also said that her initial statement was not referring to any specific cases “but expressing a general view.”

Bradley appeared to have been speaking to all fatal shootings during the Troubles, and this has prompted uproar and calls for her resignation from, among other individuals and groups, the Ballymurphy Massacre families.

In a statement released Thursday, the families said that they had been requesting a meeting with the Secretary of State since she had taken up her position.

“Karen Bradley hasn't even replied to these requests. Tonight we find that she would like to meet us tomorrow to apologize for the hurt she has caused. We will not meet her and have one request for Mrs. Bradley and that is for her to resign immediately. Families request that those parties who support our campaign join us and refuse (to) meet with Karen Bradley. Do the dignified and appropriate thing, resign Karen Bradley.”

In the U.S., Congressman Brendan Boyle condemned Bradley’s remarks and also reiterated earlier calls for the appointment of a U.S. special envoy to the North.

Said Boyle in a statement: “The recent statement by the United Kingdom’s Secretary of State for Northern Ireland is deeply troubling. To say the killings by British soldiers and police during the Troubles were ‘not a crime’ serves little purpose but to anger victims’ families and stoke the fires of division and misunderstanding.

“Dealing with the past is a critical element of the peace process in Northern Ireland, and essential to its enduring success.

“The Good Friday agreement affirms that ‘it is essential to acknowledge and address the suffering of the victims of violence as a necessary element of reconciliation.’ Effective investigations into all deaths during the Troubles is essential to a lasting peace.

“Following the Secretary’s comment, I renew my call for the Trump administration to appoint a Special Envoy to Northern Ireland. Special Envoys have played a central role in the Northern Ireland peace process. It is time for the President to honor his assurances, and demonstrate his commitment to the region and the ongoing peace process.”