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Relatives for Justice call for Bradley resignation

Secretary of State Karen Bradley. Photo courtesy of BBC Secretary of State Karen Bradley. Photo courtesy of BBC
By Michael Jackson

VICTIMS’ group Relatives for Justice have added their voice to calls for Secretary of State Karen Bradley to resign after she said that killings by state forces during the conflict were “not crimes”.

Mrs Bradley made the statement in the House of Commons on Wednesday after DUP MP Emma Little-Pengelly asked about the implementation of legacy mechanisms to investigate killings by “terrorists” during the Troubles.

Karen Bradley replied: “Over 90% of the killings during the Troubles were at the hands of terrorists. Every single one of those was a crime. The fewer than 10% 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 duties in a dignified and appropriate way.”

Following a furious backlash, Ms Bradley was forced to return to the Commons where she attempted to backtrack on her remarks.

“The point I was seeking to convey was that the overwhelming majority of those who served carried out their duties with courage, professionalism, and integrity and within the law,” she said.
“I was not referring to any specific cases but expressing a general view. Of course, where there is evidence of wrongdoing it should always be investigated whoever is responsible.”

Speaking following the remarks Mark Thompson, CEO of Relatives for Justice, said the British army has “killed citizens with impunity”.

“Karen Bradley’s comments are timed to exert maximum influence on the imminent decision on whether British Paratroopers should be prosecuted for Bloody Sunday,” he said.

“More widely, it is a political attempt at direct interference in due process and the rule of law concerning any future prosecutions in cases of state killings.

“They fly in the face of David Cameron’s own comments regarding Bloody Sunday after the Saville inquiry and Tony Blair’s comments in setting up the inquiry.

“The comments are odious, disgusting and deeply offensive. They add further hurt to those affected by state violence and collusion.

“Karen Bradley and the Tory government have clearly demonstrated the deep-seated bias and partial approach to legacy that characterised that of Theresa Villiers when she used the term ‘pernicious narratives’ to describe families’ pursuit of truth and justice about collusion.

“The vast majority of those killed by the British state were unarmed, and civilians, contrary to what Karen Bradley attempted to clarify this afternoon following her initial comments. Her ‘clarification’ is as equally insulting given that the overwhelming numbers of those killed by the state, 364, including 82 children, were unarmed and civilians. Her comments deliberately ignore extensive state involvement in paramilitary killings through collusion.

“No matter how much praise they lavish on the British army it does not change the fact that they killed civilians with impunity. In percentage terms state killings represent the greatest numbers of those for whom there has been no accountability or justice whatsoever. It can clearly be said that the British state directed its campaign of violence against the civilian population more than any other grouping in the conflict and it was directed almost exclusively against the Catholic population making it sectarian. The ‘imbalance’ that exists is in respect to the impunity administered to British soldiers and members of state forces.

“Rather than the miserable spectacle of ‘clarifying’ in case she is misunderstood Karen Bradley should immediately resign.

“Further, her government is neither fit nor neutral to take forward proposals to deal with the past. Both governments should now move to appoint an international body that can take forward a comprehensive, independent process on legacy based on the Stormont House Agreement.

“We have this afternoon contacted the Irish government to request that they address these comments.”

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