Dignified and Appropriate

Out of the Tories Catastrophe Cabinet, one giant steps out beyond Gavin Williamson’s psychotic militarism, and beyond even Chris Grayling’s monumental venal incompetence: and that is the Northern Ireland Secretary Karen Bradley, who this morning, in a fit of self-abasement and confusion told the PA:

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

But no amount of Kafkaesque apology will atone for what she did yesterday – condoning state killing of unarmed civilians.

Yesterday she stated that the killings committed by the security forces during the Troubles were somehow “not crimes”. Instead, she went on, they were the actions of “people acting under orders and instructions, fulfilling their duties in a dignified and appropriate way”.

Condemnation came from many people including the former NI Police Ombudsman Nuala O’Loan who said:

Karen Bradley has demonstrated yet again she is not fit to be SoS for Northern Ireland. We cannot continue to have a Secretary in such a state of ignorance that she doesn’t even understand the basic principles of governance and law.”


Bradley appeared to compound her insult by asking to meet representatives of those killed in the Ballymurphy Massacre in 1971, despite having ignored them since coming into office. They instead called for her immediate resignation.

The victims at Ballymurphy were:

  • Father Hugh Mullan, 38, and Francis Quinn, 19, were shot in an area of open ground behind Springfield Park
  • Daniel Teggart, 44, Joan Connolly, 44, Noel Phillips, 19 and Joseph Murphy, 41, were shot near the Henry Taggart Army base near Springfield Park
  • John Laverty, 20, and Joseph Corr, 43, were shot at separate points at the top of Whiterock Road
  • Edward Doherty, 31, was shot at the corner of Brittons Parade and Whiterock Road
  • John McKerr, 49, was shot outside the old Corpus Christi Parish

Relatives of other people killed by the security services reacted in horror to Bradley’s comments.

They remembered other victims:

“Barney McGuigan, aged 41, was shot in the back of the head while he went to the aid of the fatally wounded Patrick Doherty, 31. Mr McGuigan was waving a white handkerchief, Mr Doherty was crawling to safety.”

“Thomas Reilly was shot dead by a British soldier who was later convicted of his murder, a criminal act that devastated his family and was certainly not carried out in a “dignified and appropriate way”.

“Majella O’Hare was 12 YEARS OLD when she was shot twice in the back and killed by a para.”

“Annette McGavigan. On the 6th of September, ’71, she was 14 and was still wearing her school uniform when a British soldier shot her in the back of the head.”

“15 year old Manus Deery was shot dead by the Army in May 1972. An inquest in 2017 found that Manus was ‘totally innocent’ and the soldier was not justified in opening fire.”

“Seventeen year old Jackie Duddy was killed with a single bullet wound, while he was unarmed and running from the army.”

People who remember the Bloody Sunday Inquiry and before that the Stalker Inquiry on the Shoot to Kill policy with its horrendous fallout, the Miami Showband Massacre, and Pat Finucane and the Kincora Boys Home – and countless other examples of collusion and state killing of unarmed civilians – will have no doubt that the Northern Ireland Secretary’s position is untenable.

You don’t have to be a republican or a nationalist to find Bradley’s comments extremely distasteful, you just have to be a decent human-being.

You don’t have to be an expert in law to know that what she said yesterday (and tried to unsay today) – was obscene and preposterous – you just need to have a basic moral compass.

The comments go beyond Bradley’s famously self-confessed ignorance of anything to do with Northern Ireland, but are uttered in the context of the British government’s disgraceful abandonment and undermining of the Good Friday Agreement. Withdrawing from the EU may shatter the fragile peace in Northern Ireland.

If Bradley doesn’t have the decency to resign immediately, and it seems clear she doesn’t, she should be sacked, not for the ignorance that makes her unfit for office but for the moral failings to be unable to recognise that killing is wrong.


Comments (13)

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  1. bringiton says:

    The contempt shown by the present Tory regime in Westminster for all things Irish and Scottish shows that the so called
    union is definitely over.
    As far as they are concerned,the world stops at the M25 and no amount of back peddling and denials are going to put it back
    in the box.
    Actions speak louder than words and their actions since Brexit have been beyond the pale.
    One incompetent Tory politician after another demonstrating their ignorance and malevolence towards the non English nations
    who inhabit these islands.
    Threats of cutting off food supplies,erecting a new Trumpesque wall on their Northern border etc.
    They want splendid isolation,so we shouldn’t get in their way.

    1. Mary Spowart says:

      Well said – couldn’t agree more with your comments. I am Scottish with an Irish grandparent on both sides. My father’s mother and my mother’s father. Everything this Westminster/English government does demonstrates their contempt for the other countries in this so called union. We in the West coast of Scotland have Trident – a danger to life if relocated to the south of England but apparently perfectly safe in Scotland. English toxic nuclear mud dumped on the coast of Wales. Brexit threatening the Good Friday Agreement but hey who cares? This “union” is hanging by a thread and , hopefully, England can gain independence from the other three countries in this “union”. I, for one, would vote for that.

  2. lordmac says:

    If she has those thoughts in her mind set, what good would she be to attend as a witness to a crime involving security

  3. Josef Ó Luain says:

    It’s one thing to point Westminster politicians towards an Irish History book, it’s quite another thing to have them read it and admit that much of the blood spilled over-the-years has had its origins in London’s policies towards Ireland. Holding a contented-ignorance regarding Ireland has a long tradition amongst British politicians.

  4. Murdo Macrae says:

    This was a very sadevent in Irelands history and I find it hard to quantify the happenings on that deadful day. All i can say is that young squadies prob scared out of their wits as this was not real soldiering, were firing indcriminately with super adrenalin and in the heat of the moment tradgedyprevailed. I,m sure a lot of these surviving soldiers have had many sleepless night after this, my sympathy goes outo the families affected and in some ways a modicom of support for the squadies who were prob led by as just a frightened officer, a very bad day in history.

    1. J Galt says:

      Being very generous, in my view over generous, that’s just about tenable for Bloody Sunday but not for Ballymurphy, which in many ways was the more shocking event. Deliberate state terror.

  5. Jo says:

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

    No matter what one thinks when it comes to the subject Bradley was discussing, that quote alone is damning. Roughly translated, it declares, “I want to be very clear, I haven’t an effing clue!”

    How on earth did this imbecile ever get to be a Minister?

    Her first clanger was that she didn’t know that Unionists and Nationalists in NI often have very distinct voting habits. So she got off to a dreadful start. But to go on to make that further statement and then claim she didn’t actually believe it, that it wasn’t her view, is so reckless it’s grounds for dismissal. The woman is a dangerous liability!

  6. Willie says:

    One of the slaughtered at Ballmurphy was shot fourteen times by the so called security forces.

    For anyone who doesn’t know about ballistics, the fourteen bullets pumped into this poor innocent unfortunate, tore huge exit chunks from his body.

    That’s what the weaponry is designed to do.

    That is the reality of Karen Bradley’s soldiers …under orders fulfilling their duties in a dignified and appropriate way ”

    Dignified Karen you declare, I hope they hosed the street down afterwards.

    Problem is people like Bradley and Williamson would do exactly the same again. And don’t think they wouldn’t do it in Scotland.

    It’s the British way.

    1. Isobel muirhead says:

      Hear hear. Nothing else I can say. This government disgusts me more every day.

  7. Alasdair Macdonald says:

    Of course she will not resign, nor will she be sacked. This government does not consider itself answerable to anyone or to any previous conventions.

    She was a wholly inappropriate choice for the job, being completely ignorant of the history of Ireland. The government is only interested in keeping the votes of the DUP.

    In all probability she will get support from within her party and from various loyalist groups.

  8. David McCann says:

    Aye. As Churchill once opined;
    “We have always found the Irish to be a bit odd.
    They refuse to be English”

  9. James Robertson says:

    Immediately after Nuala O’Loan had delivered her devastating assessment of Karen Bradley on The World at One, the former Tory Secretary of State for Northern Ireland Theresa Villiers came on the programme and said she not only thought Bradley should not resign/be sacked but defended what Bradley had said. As other commentators here have said, this is just symptomatic of how the post-imperial mindset of the British State works: total disdain for and lack of understanding of Ireland, Scotland and Wales. It was ever thus and only ending the Union will bring about a shift in these attitudes.

  10. MBC says:

    Even if she was ignorant, and innately inclined to be sceptical about the killings from a partisan perspective of a Britnat, a basic search of Wikipedia would have revealed to her that these killings were of huge concern and that she might need to tread delicately. Doesn’t she have a research assistant? Couldn’t she get the Commons library to provide her with some basic background?

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