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Mary Lou McDonald: 'I think she should go... but the problem is much bigger than Karen Bradley'

The Sinn Féin leader added to calls for Karen Bradley’s resignation earlier today.

Image: Niall Carson/PA Images

SINN FÉIN LEADER Mary Lou McDonald has called on the UK’s Northern Ireland Secretary Karen Bradley to resign, but believes there is a “systemic problem” in Britain that wouldn’t be solved by Bradley’s resignation.

Speaking to reporters this morning, McDonald added to calls on Bradley to go, over comments made in the House of Commons earlier this week. 

The Sinn Féin leader also went on the attack against the British government today, accusing the Conservative party of “recklessness” and “indecision”. 

On Wednesday, Bradley said in parliament that deaths in Northern Ireland during the Troubles “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 duties in a dignified and appropriate way.”

After a number of statements seeking to clarify her comments, she said on Thursday evening that she was “profoundly sorry for the offence and hurt” that her words had caused. 

Speaking to RTÉ News, Bradley said again that she was “profoundly sorry” for the offence caused, and said she didn’t believe what she said.

The Northern Ireland Secretary has since faced a barrage of criticism over her statement, while this FactCheck found her original claim to be false.

Sinn Féin’s McDonald said today that “certainly her comments are a resigning matter”. 

“It’d be hard to overstate the level of anger and stress it’s generated,” she said.

I think she should go. But the problem is much bigger than Karen Bradley. It’s a systemic problem where the British system refuses to come forward with the truth.

With a series of crucial votes in Westminster next week that will decide the UK’s course with Brexit, McDonald said these votes coming with just 20 days to go until Brexit was a further sign of the British government “playing down the clock” and “playing for time”.

She said: “If Britain wishes to Brexit, who are we to stop them? They’re not taking the North of Ireland with them. And they’re certainly not going to wreck the Irish economy, or upend our peace process or our peace settlement.”

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The Sinn Féin leader added that it’s essential that Dublin and Brussels stands firm in the coming weeks and “doesn’t blink”.

Yesterday, Michel Barnier offered the UK a new Brexit deal which would see it leave the customs union but keep parts of the backstop which would ensure there is no hard border on the island of Ireland.

In a number of tweets sent this afternoon, Barnier said the UK has been offered a way to exit the “single customs territory unilaterally, while the other elements of the backstop must be maintained to avoid a hard border”. 

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, in response to Barnier’s tweets, said the ball is in the UK’s court. 

He said: “We were and remain happy to apply the backstop only to Northern Ireland, if they want to go back to that. It doesn’t have to trap or keep all of Great Britain in the single customs territory for a prolonged period, or at all.”

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Sean Murray

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