Northern Ireland Secretary Karen Bradley forced to apologise over comments on Troubles killings
Northern Ireland Secretary Karen Bradley has been forced to apologise for comments she made about military killings during the Troubles.
The Cabinet minister was facing calls to step down after she told MPs that deaths during the conflict at the hands of British soldiers "were not crimes".
She made the comments ahead of an expected announcement over whether prosecutions will be brought in relation to the infamous Bloody Sunday killings.
Speaking during a Commons session on Wednesday, Ms Bradley said: “Over 90% of the killings during the Troubles were at the hands of terrorists, every single one of those was a crime...
"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."
SDLP leader Colum Eastwood and Sinn Fein’s vice-president Michelle O’Neill both called on Ms Bradley to quit over the comments.
Meanwhile, John Kelly, whose teenage brother was one of 14 innocent civilians who were killed on Bloody Sunday, told the BBC: "Her place now is untenable - she should go."
Ms Bradley tried to clarify what she said in a Commons address on Wednesday, however she stopped short of a full apology.
But in a statement released today, the Northern Ireland Secretary said she was “profoundly sorry for the offence and hurt that my words have caused”.
She added: “The language was wrong and even though this was not my intention, it was deeply insensitive to many of those who lost loved ones.
“I know from those families that I have met personally just how raw their pain is and I completely understand why they want to see justice properly delivered."
She went on: “I share that aim and that is why I launched the public consultation on addressing the legacy of the troubles.
“My position and the position of this Government is clear. We believe fundamentally in the rule of law.
“Where there is any evidence of wrongdoing this should be pursued without fear or favour whoever the perpetrators might be.
"That is a principle that underpins our approach to dealing with legacy issues and it is one from which we will not depart.”