Video: Karen Bradley's comments on British soldier killings part of deliberate 'whitewash' policy, claim T.D.s
The Secretary of State, Karen Bradley's claim last week that British Army killings in the North were not crimes has been described as part of a deliberate British policy of 'whitewashing' the activities of Britain's armed forces during the recent conflict.
People Before Profit T.D., Bríd Smith, said she refused to accept Mrs. Bradley's subsequent claim that she had not meant to say that "the under 10 per cent [of killings] that were at the hands of the military and police were not crimes; they were people acting under orders and instructions, fulfilling their duties in a dignified and appropriate way".
Deputy Smith claimed that this hadn't been a misstatement as the Secretary of State claimed, but was revealing of British attitudes to the deaths of Irish people at the hands of British Armed forces in the North.
"Her statement that they are innocent and that they never committed a crime because they were following orders has to be utterly rejected, not as a mistake but as part of a campaign to whitewash the activities of the paratroopers in Derry and Ballymurphy," said the People Before Profit T.D.
"Both of those historic incidents are coming up for scrutiny in the near future."
Addressing the Tánaiste Simon Coveney she said: "It is not good enough to have gone to dinner with Karen Bradley and to accept that what she said was a mistake.
"It cannot be a mistake. She put those words together very deliberately. I am asking the Tánaiste to do what he says he will do in the programme for Government and stick by the victims and survivors in Northern Ireland.
"I urge him to call in the British ambassador, as he did the Russian ambassador when there were suspicions over activities at that embassy, and insist that Karen Bradley resigns and that those remarks are not allowed to influence whether the soldiers who killed 13 people on Bloody Sunday and 11 people in Ballymurphy go to trial."
Responding Mr. Coveney referred to Mrs. Bradley's later clarification of her remarks with the caveat that "where there is evidence of wrongdoing it should always be investigated, whoever is responsible" and that "these are of course matters for the police and prosecuting authorities who are independent of government".
The Tánaiste stated: "It is important to quote from the Secretary of State's statement...in which she says that where there is any evidence of wrongdoing, this should be pursued without fear or favour, whoever the perpetrators may be.
"That principle underpins our approach to dealing with legacy issues and it is one from which we will not depart. I have made the Irish Government's position very clear."
Sinn Féin T.D. for Donegal Pearse Doherty indicated that he believed the controversial remarks reflected the British Government's policy objectives.
He said: "The British Secretary of State, Karen Bradley, stated that the killings carried out by British security forces in the North were not crimes. It was an outrageous and ridiculous statement, which followed on from a statement from the British Prime Minister, Theresa May, who indicated that the British Government is planning to introduce legislation to protect serving and former British soldiers who may have committed crimes.
"This did not emerge from the blue, but rather was a part of a sequence of events happening within the Tory Party. The comments of both are an insult to families who have lost loved ones at the hands of the British army and their proxies in loyalist death squads who were directed by the British state.
"Such comments add insult to injury for the families who have suffered these awful tragedies and who have faced difficulties in trying to secure the truth for many decades.
"These families are faced with the British Government's continued attempts to block access to the truth and justice that they so desperately seek."
The Fianna Fáil Deputy Leader Dara Calleary also attacked both the Secretary of State and the Conservative Party backbencher Boris Johnson for their insensitivity towards the families of those killed on Bloody Sunday.
"His statements trampled all over the feelings of the families. He ignored the fact that 13 people had been murdered on that day and that a 14th person had died from injuries he had suffered on that day.
"He also ignored the apology given by the former Prime Minister David Cameron specifically to the people of Derry and the families for the hurt and the wrongs done on that day," said Deputy Calleary.
The Fianna Fáil T.D. said Mr. Johnson should not be excused his comments.
"Although it is easy to dismiss Boris Johnson because he is paid to be bizarre, as a former Foreign Secretary, he should not be allowed to get away with these remarks.
"We cannot dismiss the words of Karen Bradley because she is the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland. Her comments....in the UK Parliament added to the enormous distress of the families.
"She completely ignored the views and requests of the PPS, as expressed last weekend. Her comments were completely inappropriate and, even worse, ignored due process and the impending decision of the PPS. She walked all over the rights, feelings and sensitivities of the families.
"She also ignored their grief and frustration. In the light of the history of the events of Bloody Sunday, the Oireachtas cannot let her remarks go unchecked," he said.