Northern Ireland news

Former Police Ombudsman Nuala O'Loan calls for 'removal' of Karen Bradley

Nuala O'Loan said if Karen Bradley did not resign then she should be 'removed'. Picture by Hugh Russell
John Manley, Seamus McKinney and Connla Young

FORMER Police Ombudsman Nuala O'Loan last night led a chorus of calls from victims' groups urging Karen Bradley to resign.

Baroness O'Loan, who chairs the the Independent Advisory Group for Operation Kenova, the Stakeknife investigation, has written to Theresa May saying the Tory leader should "remove" the secretary of state if she does not quit.

She said Mrs Bradley's apology yesterday made no difference and that secretary of state had failed to understand the responsibilities of her office.

"Those comments show a complete disregard for the operation of the rule of law, moreover, they also demonstrate a total lack of understanding about Northern Ireland and utter contempt for those who suffered the loss of loved ones," she said.

Baroness O'Loan said there was a "vociferous and uninformed campaign" among elements in Britain to "close down" probes into the past.

"Notwithstanding that, it is incomprehensible that anyone seized of the responsibilities given to Ms Bradley, who should be fully aware of the history of Northern Ireland, should comment in these terms," she said.

Families bereaved in the Ballymurphy Massacre also said Mrs Bradley's apology was "too little, too late".

Joan Connolly rejected Karen Bradley's apology. Picture by Alan Lewis, Photopress

Speaking outside Belfast Coroner's Court ahead of inquest proceedings into the 1971 killings, Briege Voyle, whose mother Joan Connolly was one of those shot dead, said the remarks were a "disgrace".

"We had to sit in there yesterday, me and my sisters, and listen to the horrific things that those soldiers did to my mummy. Blew half her face off, shot her in the thigh, shot her in the hand," she said.

"And she's telling me these soldiers did this with dignity? Where was the dignity in that? Where was my mummy's dignity, where was my mummy's right to life?"

Mrs Voyle said Mrs Bradley should "hang her head in shame and leave".

John Teggart speaking outside Belfast Coroners' Court. Picture by Alan Lewis, Photopress

John Teggart, whose father Danny was shot 14 times, also said Mrs Bradley had caused "deep hurt".

"Her apology is too little, too late," he said.

Tony Doherty, the chairman of the trust representing Derry’s Bloody Sunday families, said Mrs Bradley's apology was prompted by "outrage" and that she should "set the record straight" by formally withdrawing her remarks from Hansard, the House of Commons official record.

“It seems to us that her heartfelt apology only came after she saw the outrage she caused. If nothing else, she has shown complete ignorance of the situation here,” he said.

Mr Doherty, whose father Patrick was shot dead on Bloody Sunday, said the remarks on Wednesday were “odious and breathtaking”.

“Many Irish families have suffered and continue to suffer as a result of the criminal actions of British forces since 1969," he said.

"Of course, in a perverse sense, Karen Bradley is correct in that there has been no or little attempt made to investigate deaths at the hands of the so-called security forces, however, just because there has been no criminal investigation, does not mean that no crime has been committed."

Meanwhile, SDLP councillor Denise Mullen, whose father Denis was shot dead in 1975 by the notorious Glenanne Gang, also spoke of the “hurt” caused by Karen Bradley’s comments.

The gang, which included members of the RUC, UDR and UVF, is believed to have killed more than 100 people during a sectarian campaign in the 1970s.

“(Ms Bradley) has shown herself time and again to have no knowledge of the dynamics of the north,” she said.

“She has no idea, for people suffering PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder), how those comments make them feel.”

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