The Northern Ireland Secretary Karen Bradley said yesterday that killings by the British army and police during the Troubles were “not crimes”. Her comments are the latest in a underlying current of ignorance and lack of respect coming from certain British politicians and commemorators that needs to be exposed.
Ms Bradley made the comments while responding to a question from DUP MP Emma Little-Pengelly about legacy issues in Westminster. Ms Bradley said, “Over 90 per cent of the killings during the Troubles were at the hands of terrorists, every single one of those was a crime.”
“The fewer than ten per cent that were at the hands of the military and police were not crimes,” she added.
“They were people acting under orders and under instruction and fulfilling their duty in a dignified and appropriate way,” said Ms Bradley.
When it emerged quickly that her comments caused a great deal of criticism from all sides, she promptly returned to the British Parliament and made the following clarification.
“I referred to deaths during the Troubles caused by members of the security forces. 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.
Calls are mounting for Ms Bradley to step down as Secretary for Northern Ireland especially given that many have not seen her clarification as any kind of apology given the considerable anger of British actions during the troubles.
While it is certain that Ms Bradley’s position is untenable, there is a deeper problem which seems to be running in certain sections of British society about Ireland and has revealed itself in Brexit. The fact is that many commentators and politicians still see Ireland as some kind of colony or vassal state that has no business meddling in or indeed influencing outcomes of British political policy.
And it is up to all to all of us to expose these as both ignorant and dangerous if we are to continue to develop relations between the two states because like it not, Ireland is indeed a separate state to Britain and has been since 1922.
For the most part, it would do well for those who still see “Eire” in such way to pick up a history book and do some revision before making such ludicrous and inflammatory statements such as the ones made by Ms Bradley in this situation.
Part of the problem is that Irish history is not taught in UK schools, so therefore most people are unaware of the past actions that caused the Republic to happen, including the brutal behaviour of such British state organisations as the black & tans. I was unaware of Irish history until I moved from the UK to the Republic of Ireland, I found it extremely moving, and was left ashamed that the UK could act in such a manner. I would add that ignorance & arrogance leads eventually to conflict, not learning from past actions being a prime factor.