Karen Bradley meets bereaved families after comments on state killings

Families bereaved by security force violence have met Karen Bradley to express concern about her controversial comments on state killings.

The Northern Ireland Secretary reached out to a number of victims’ groups following her gaffe.

Some refused to meet Mrs Bradley but on Friday morning a delegation of relatives did travel to Stormont House in Belfast to discuss the furore.

Mrs Bradley’s remarks in the Commons on Wednesday that killings carried out by the police and military during the Troubles were not crimes, rather actions of people “fulfilling their duties in a dignified and appropriate way”, sparked fury among some victims and political parties.

Ahead of the private meeting with her at Stormont, campaign group Relatives for Justice tweeted a picture of them, saying: “A delegation of families bereaved by the British Army and RUC outside Stormont House on way to meet Karen Bradley, look her in the eye, and tell her what they think.”

Relatives of those killed in shootings involving the Army in Ballymurphy in west Belfast in 1971 refused to meet the Conservative MP.

John Teggart, whose father Danny was shot 14 times at Ballymurphy, said Mrs Bradley should resign.

“We will not meet her, and have one request for Mrs Bradley and that is for her to resign immediately,” he said.

“Families request that those parties who support our campaign join us and refuse to meet with Karen Bradley.

“Do the dignified and appropriate thing – resign, Karen Bradley.”

Mrs Bradley made it clear on Thursday that she would not be leaving her role, vowing instead to work to deliver for people she had offended.

“I want to get on and get this job done,” she said.

Downing Street has said Prime Minister Theresa May retains full confidence in her.

The minister’s comments carried added significance as they were made a week before long-awaited decisions from Northern Ireland prosecutors on whether 17 soldiers involved in the Bloody Sunday shootings in Londonderry in 1972 will face prosecution.

She returned to the Commons on Wednesday afternoon in a bid to clarify the comments and, on Thursday, issued a statement of apology, saying she was “profoundly sorry”.

In an interview with the Press Association in Belfast on Thursday evening, Mrs Bradley said there were “no excuses” for what she said.

“I shouldn’t have said it and I want to say sorry to all those people, all those families that have been kind enough to share their experiences with me,” she said.

“I want to say sorry to them because I didn’t want to cause hurt or pain or distress to them in any way, and what I want to do is deliver for them, and I am absolutely determined I will do.

“I recognise that a slip of the tongue at the wrong moment has caused enormous distress.

“I want to be very clear – I do not believe what I said, that is not my view.

“I believe that where crimes have happened, no matter who the perpetrator, they should be properly investigated by an independent authority and they should be prosecuted.

“There is no excuse for anybody where a crime has been committed.”