Ballymurphy families refuse Karen Bradley’s invitation to meet

Families bereaved in shootings involving the British Army in Belfast in 1971 have rejected Karen Bradley’s invitation to meet.

The Northern Ireland Secretary reached out to victims hurt by comments she made over state killings in Northern Ireland.

Her remark in the House of 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.

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John Teggart speaking outside Belfast Coroner’s Court, following Karen Bradley’s apology for comments suggesting deaths caused by soldiers and police during the Troubles were not crimes (David Young/PA)

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

“Ballymurphy massacre families have been requesting a meeting with the secretary of state since she took up her position of Secretary of State for Northern Ireland,” he said.

“Karen Bradley hasn’t even replied to these requests.

“Tonight (Thursday) 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.

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Karen Bradley speaking to the media at Stormont House in Belfast following her apology (David Young/PA)

“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 she would not be resigning over the gaffe, vowing 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.

Mrs Bradley has faced calls to quit – from victims of state violence and several political parties in Northern Ireland – following the remarks in the Commons.

Ballymurphy families tell Karen Bradley that apology is “too little, too late” and she should “hang her head in shame and leave…through the back door.”

— David Young (@DavidYoungPA) March 7, 2019

The Secretary of State’s remarks 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 afternoon, 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.”