None of the Troubles deaths at the hands of security forces were crimes, Karen Bradley has said.
Addressing the Commons on Wednesday, the NI Secretary said that while all of the deaths caused by terrorists were illegal, “the fewer than 10 per cent that were at the hands of the military and police were not crimes”.
There has been widespread anger at the statement, which many commentators believe was indefensible at a time when a number of fatal incidents involving the security forces are being investigated and brought before the courts.
Mrs Bradley went on to say: “They were people acting under orders and under instruction and fulfilling their duty in a dignified and appropriate way.”
The secretary of state was responding to a question from DUP MP Emma Little-Pengelly, who had asked Mrs Bradley when she was going to establish a mechanism to probe the large number of unsolved murders and injuries as a result of terrorist acts.
John Finucane, the son of murdered solicitor Pat Finucane, posted his reaction on Twitter.
He said: “Legally, politically and morally these comments are indefensible, yet is it really surprising to hear a SoS publicly express the contempt we know the British govt had for lives here?”
The Relatives 4 Justice group tweeted: The Secretary of State comments this morning coming a week before the PPS decision on Bloody Sunday soldiers is blatant political interference in due process.”
Sinn Fein’s Michelle Gildernew said Mrs Bradley’s position as NI Secretary was now “untenable”.