- 06 Mar 19
The Northern Ireland Secretary of State made the comment in the House of Commons on Wednesday
Speaking in the House of Commons today, Karen Bradley responded to a question from the DUP’s Emma Little Pengelly about legacy issues.
"Over 90% of killings during the Troubles were at the hands of terrorists, every single one of those was a crime," she said.
"The fewer than 10% that were at the hands of the military and police were not crimes.
"They were people acting under orders and under instruction and fulfilling their duty in a dignified and appropriate way."
The comments immediately drew backlash.
In a tweet, SDLP leader Colum Eastwood said, “Karen Bradley is publicly interfering with the rule of law. No-one has the right to deliberately pressure or intervene with due process. She should resign.”
Sinn Féin deputy leader Michelle O'Neill also tweeted, saying, "These comments are an insult to families who have lost loved ones at the hands of the British army, state agencies and their proxies in the loyalist death squads which were directed by the British state.
"These offensive and hurtful comments should be withdrawn immediately."
Bradley returned to the chamber later in the day, clarifying her comments, "The point I was seeking to convey was that the overwhelming majority of those who served carried out their duties with courage, professionalism, and integrity and within the law," she said.
"I was not referring to any specific cases but expressing a general view. Of course, where there is evidence of wrongdoing it should always be investigated whoever is responsible.
"These are of course matters for the police and prosecuting authorities who are independent of government."
The comments come following media reports suggesting that four ex-British soldiers could be charged with the shooting of unarmed marchers in Derry in 1972, known as bloody Sunday. Boris Johnson wrote an opinion piece on the reports, claiming there would be “a storm of utter fury” if the men were to be charged.