Families call for Bradley to resign

Image caption Frances Meehan said it was “not acceptable that Karen Bradley remain in her post”

The sister of a man who was shot dead by the Army has called for the Northern Ireland secretary to resign after her controversial remarks about the Troubles.

Karen Bradley told MPs on Wednesday that deaths caused by security forces in Northern Ireland were “not crimes”.

Mrs Bradley has since apologised.


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    Frances Meehan, whose brother Michael Donnelly was shot with a plastic bullet in 1981, said Mrs Bradley’s position is “untenable”.

    Ms Meehan was meeting the secretary of state as part of a a delegation from the victims’ group Relatives for Justice.

    She said Mrs Bradley had a “duty to ensure investigations take place”.

    Ms Meehan said the secretary of state told the group she would make a public apology again but it was “not good enough for someone who is meant to represent the interests of Northern Ireland at the British cabinet.”

    Media playback is unsupported on your device

    Media captionKaren Bradley says she’s “devastated” to think she made pain worse for Troubles victims’ families

    “It is not acceptable that Karen Bradley remains in her post and we are calling again for her to resign,” she added.

    Her comments come after relatives of 10 people killed in west Belfast during the Troubles refused to meet the Northern Ireland secretary.

    Families of those killed at Ballymurphy in 1971 said she wanted to meet them to apologise for “hurt she has caused”.

    But they said they would not accept her offer and called for her to resign.

    Mrs Bradley made a public apology on Thursday and said there were no excuses for what she said in the House of Commons.

    She said she knew how “raw” the pain was for relatives of people killed during the Troubles and added that she was “devastated to think that I have made it worse”.

    The 10 people who died at Ballymurphy were killed during an Army operation in which paramilitary suspects were detained without trial.

    An inquest into their deaths has been taking place in Belfast since November.

    Image copyright Pacemaker
    Image caption The relatives of those killed at Ballymurphy in 1971 have called for Karen Bradley to resign

    In a statement late on Thursday night, the Ballymurphy victims’ families said they had been requesting a meeting with Mrs Bradley since she became the Northern Ireland secretary in January last year.

    “Karen Bradley hasn’t even replied to these requests,” they said.

    “Tonight we find that she would like to meet us tomorrow to apologise 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.”

    Media playback is unsupported on your device

    Media caption‘Her place now is untenable’

    Their comments came after the barrister Michael Mansfield QC, who is representing some of the families, said at the Ballymurphy inquest on Thursday that Mrs Bradley had made “entirely inappropriate observations”.

    She had “no regard whatsoever for these proceedings”, he told the coroner.

    Pádraig Ó’Muirigh, a solicitor for the families, said he had been instructed by his clients to contact the Attorney General about “potential contempt issues that might arise” from her comments.

    Media playback is unsupported on your device

    Media caption‘They were people acting under orders’ – Bradley

    Ms Meehan said she understood the Ballymurphy families’ position.

    “They’re sitting in court and their listening to tales of their loved ones being riddled on the ground as they lay begging for help.

    “I imagine it would have been too painful for them to come here and they are probably very angry and would not have been able to come here to speak to Karen Bradley, so I respect their decision,” she said.

    Speaking on the BBC’s The View programme, Judith Thompson, the Northern Ireland victims’ commissioner, said that some people affected by the Troubles were left in “genuine shock” by Mrs Bradley’s remarks in the Commons.

    “We can’t move forward by having a bipolar political discourse, which is actually not one that is moved forward by a lack of honesty,” added Ms Thompson.

    Image caption Karen Bradley’s comments left some people in “genuine shock”, says Judith Thompson

    The Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) MP Sir Jeffrey Donaldson said his advice to Mrs Bradley would be: “I think you’re in the last-chance saloon on this.

    “You really need to show that we can resolve these issues and move this process forward.”

    The SDLP leader Colum Eastwood said that the Northern Ireland secretary’s apology was “just not enough”.

    “It’s not about the insensitivity, it’s not about hurt – it’s about the impact that it has on the judicial process,” he added.

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