'Milk bottle' remarks by ex-member of British Army regiment deployed in Derry on Bloody Sunday slammed

Raymond McCartney.
Raymond McCartney.

British veterans' minister, Tobias Ellwood, an ex-member of one of the Army regiments present in Derry on Bloody Sunday, has been attacked over flippant remarks about the actions of the British state in the North during the recent conflict.

Mr. Ellwood, speaking to BBC journalist John Pienaar on the British state-broadcaster's Radio 5 Live station, said: "I served in Northern Ireland, I was on operations, I knocked over a few milk bottles when I was there, to put it lightly. I don’t want somebody knocking on my door.

"I don’t want anybody asking for any members of my platoon that I served with to be asked questions on something that happened so many years ago."

The junior defence minister served with the British Army's Royal Green Jackets in the North for a period in the early 1990s.

His comments have sparked anger in Derry where that very regiment was among the British forces deployed against the Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association (NICRA) anti-internment demonstration of January 30, 1972, which was ultimately gunned down by members of the Parachute Regiment resulting in 13 fatalities in what has since become known as Bloody Sunday.

Sinn Féin MLA Raymond McCartney branded the minister's 'milk bottles' remarks 'disgraceful'.

“Mr. Ellwood’s comments that he ‘knocked over a few milk bottles’ while in the British Army in the north are arrogant and highly insulting.

“The British Army killed hundreds of people during the conflict in the north and its intelligence services colluded in and arming and financing unionist death squads, providing them with intelligence on victims and arranging murder and free passage for those involved.

“There can be no immunity from prosecution for British forces who killed Irish citizens and as recently stated by the British Secretary of State Karen Bradley ‘no one is above the law’.

“The Stormont House legacy bodies are key to finding a way forward on the past so its important that we now move on with the consultation and the British Government end its stalling, delaying and deliberate misinformation with regard to this issue.

“Similarly, they must drop their ongoing refusal to release the legacy inquest funding requested by the Lord Chief Justice.

“It is now two months since the High Court ruled that this money was unlawfully blocked by the former First Minister Arlene Foster.

“The British Secretary of State should immediately release the funding and enable the Lord Chief Justice to proceed with his plan to clear the backlog of legacy inquests.”