Karen Bradley refuses to resign, is ‘deeply sorry’ for remarks

Northern Ireland secretary told Commons Troubles killings by soldiers ‘not crimes’

Secretary of state for Northern Ireland Karen Bradley said she wants to ‘deliver justice’ for families hurt by what she said. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw/The Irish Times

Secretary of state for Northern Ireland Karen Bradley said she wants to ‘deliver justice’ for families hurt by what she said. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw/The Irish Times

 

Northern Ireland secretary Karen Bradley has refused calls for her to stand down and said she considers her role “one of the greatest honours in Government”.

On Wednesday, Ms Bradley told the House of Commons that “over 90 per cent of the killings during the Troubles were at the hands of terrorists, every single one of those was a crime.

“The fewer than 10 per cent that were at the hands of the military and police were not crimes. They were people acting under orders and under instruction and fulfilling their duty in a dignified and appropriate way.”

Relatives of people who died in the Troubles and politicians in the North and State condemned her remarks.

Ms Bradley said she is “deeply sorry” for the “offence and hurt” caused after she said deaths caused by soldiers and police during the Troubles were not crimes.

Speaking to the BBC’s The View programme on Thursday, Ms Bradley said she had “said the wrong thing”.

When asked about whether she would resign, she said she was determined to deliver for people in Northern Ireland.

“I want to apologise to everybody who has been hurt, distressed by what I said. It was wrong. I should not have said it. What I want to do now is deliver for those families from all parts of the community who have been so deeply affected by the Troubles because I know how raw that pain is,” she said.

‘Corrected the record’

Ms Bradley said there were “no excuses” for what she said in the House of Commons on Wednesday: “It’s not what I think, it’s not what I mean. I said something in response to an oral question and as soon as I realised what I had said I corrected the record,” she said.

When asked if she will apologise formally in the House of Commons, she said she has already corrected the record in the House and apologised for her comments outside.

“I am determined that those families who have been hurt by what I said will see justice,” she added.

Northern Ireland’s former police ombudsman Baroness Nuala O’Loan urged British prime minister Theresa May to seek Ms Bradley’s resignation.

Baroness O’Loan said Ms Bradley’s remarks demonstrated ignorance of Northern Ireland’s history and that she had no credible future as secretary of state.

Ms Bradley previously faced criticism in 2018 when she said she did not know that Northern Ireland votes along sectarian lines.

Responding to Baroness O’Loan’s remarks, Ms Bradley said she is working “incredibly hard” for the people of Northern Ireland and would continue to do so.

“I’ve worked tirelessly since I was appointed to what I consider one of the greatest honours in Government – to be Secretary of State for Northern Ireland. I am determined we will restore devolution and we will deliver,” she said.

“I’m responsible for dealing with the legacy of the Troubles and I’m determined we will do so. I’m determined that those families that have been hurt by what I said will see justice,” she said.