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Karen Bradley: The first time she appears to have opened her mouth to discuss anything of importance, and she seems to have put her foot right in it.

What do Tories have against Northern Ireland, anyway? They are supposed to be the Conservative and Unionist Party, which implies they want us all to stay in a United Kingdom – but silly remarks like those of Karen Bradley make this seem less likely.

In fact, it’s people like Ms Bradley who seem set to kick off the Troubles all over again.

Ms Bradley, in case you haven’t heard, happens to be the Conservative Secretary of State for Northern Ireland.

It’s only a matter of weeks since a car bomb exploded in Londonderry – possibly in response to the Tory government’s failure to restore the devolved Northern Ireland government in Stormont, possibly because Theresa May seems to have sidelined the needs of Northern Ireland in her Brexit deal with the European Union.

Now Ms Bradley has inflamed tempers further by claiming that the deaths of Northern Irish people at the hands of the security forces during the Troubles “were not crimes”, only constituted around 10 per cent of all deaths during that conflict, and that police and the military were “fulfilling their duties in a dignified and appropriate way”.

She picked the worst possible time to put her foot in her mouth, as families of those who died on Bloody Sunday are waiting to learn whether any of the soldiers involved in those killings will face prosecution.

Her claim that “the fewer than 10 per cent that were at the hands of the military and police were not crimes” seems to pre-empt any judgement – and may be deemed to be an attempt to deliberately intervene in the due process of the law.

And her later attempt at a clarification – that “where there is evidence of wrongdoing, it should always be investigated” may have made matters worse, as her earlier comments had indicated a belief that there is no such evidence in the cases of the police and military.

To understand why Ms Bradley’s comments caused so much outrage, consider the following Twitter thread by Claire Allan. I’m not saying any legal weight should be given to it, because I don’t know the full details of every incident – but it is clear that Ms Allan believes the people she named were killed illegally and I have no doubt that many others feel the same.

It is entirely unacceptable for a cabinet minister to stamp on their expectations of justice in this way.

Read the threat for yourself:

Ms Allan concluded: “John Johnston was not on the ill-fated Civil Rights March on Bloody Sunday. He was on his way to visit a friend when he was shot twice.
He died four and a half months later.

“Oh Karen Bradley, you are either very stupid, very blind or very cruel.”

Relatives of the deceased have also made their feelings known:

Calls for Ms Bradley’s resignation are likely to go unheard, though.

It seems that some people can say anything they want, no matter how offensive, and get away with it.

(Others might restrict themselves rigidly to the facts and still be accused and ostracised – as those of us involved in the fake “anti-Semitism” row will know.)

And Tories – even nonentities like Ms Bradley – firmly fall in the former category.


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