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Families of Ballymurphy massacre victims refuse to meet Karen Bradley

The group have refused to allow the UK’s Northern Ireland Secretary to apologise to them in person over comments she made about the Troubles.
Mar 8th 2019, 10:13 AM 12,654 20

THE FAMILIES OF the victims of the Ballymurphy massacre have refused to meet Karen Bradley after controversial comments she made about killings during the Troubles.

On Wednesday, the UK’s Northern Ireland Secretary told the House of Commons the deaths in Northern Ireland “that were at the hands of the military and police were not crimes”.

Her comments caused uproar, with many politicians and others deeming them deeply offensive to victims’ families.

Bradley later apologised, saying she was “profoundly sorry for the offence and hurt” that her words had caused, adding that she didn’t believe what she said.

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Bradley has requested to meet victims’ loved ones to apologise in person but families affected by the Ballymurphy massacre have declined her invitation and called on her to resign.

In a statement sent to BBC Northern Ireland, the group said they have been requesting a meeting with Bradley since she took up her position last year, but that she “hasn’t even replied to these requests”.

We will not meet her and have one request for Mrs Bradley and that is for her to resign immediately.

“Families request that those parties who support our campaign join us and refuse meet with Karen Bradley. Do the dignified and appropriate thing, resign Karen Bradley,” the statement reads.

Eleven people died in the massacre which took place in the Ballymurphy estate in Belfast between 9 and 11 August 1971 – 10 were shot dead by British soldiers and one had a heart attack. 

‘Outrageous and ridiculous’ comments 

Yesterday Taoiseach Leo Varadkar told reporters he had met victims’ families in the past and they are still grieving and hurting, adding that many of them have unanswered questions. 

He said Bradley’s comments were “insensitive” and “wrong”.

“Bear in mind what we’re talking about here is, we’re talking about the killing of civilians, not combatants. We’re talking about peaceful protesters in Derry on Bloody Sunday, we’re talking about Ballymurphy, we’re talking about Kingsmills, we’re talking about Dublin and Monaghan.

And we need a British government that is at least open to the possibility that these killings of civilians could have been crimes – and indeed there have been convictions for such killings. In that context I really think the comments were wrong and insensitive.

When asked if he thought she should resign, he replied: “Not going to go there”.

In the Dáil yesterday, Fianna Fáil’s Dara Calleary described the comments as “absolutely callous and completely out of order and totally inappropriate”, while Sinn Féin’s Pearse Doherty said the remarks were “outrageous and ridiculous”.

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Órla Ryan

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