Friday 18 October 2019

Fianna Fail and SDLP split over whether Karen Bradley should resign

Northern Ireland Secretary Karen Bradley. Photo: PA
Northern Ireland Secretary Karen Bradley. Photo: PA

Kevin Doyle and Tom Brady

FIANNA Fáil and their new partners in the SDLP are at odd over whether Northern Ireland’s Secretary of State Karen Bradley should resign.

Ms Bradley remains under intense pressure to step down after claiming  that security forces killings during the Troubles were "not crimes".

She told the House of Commons on Wednesday that such killings were carried out by officers "fulfilling their duties in a dignified and appropriate way".

While Ms Bradley has since apologised profusely, a majority of parties in Northern Ireland remain of the view that she should stand down from her key position.

Among those making such a call is SDLP leader Colum Eastwood who has accused her of “publicly interfering with the rule of law”.

Next week, prosecutors will announce whether soldiers will face trial for the Bloody Sunday killings of 14 innocent civilians in Derry.

Mr Eastwood said nobody has the right to “deliberately pressure or intervene with due process” and added that “she should resign”.

However, Fianna Fáil’s justice spokesman has stopped short of echoing the viewpoint, saying his party accepts her apology as “sufficient”.

Last month Fianna Fáil and the SDLP announced a formal partnership that will see them work together on policy issues and campaigns into the future.

When asked about Ms Bradley’s position, Jim O’Callaghan said: “We’re not giving her our support but I suppose the question is ‘are Fianna Fáil calling on her to resign?’ We’re not. But I do recognise that what she said was completely inappropriate.”

He added: “I think by apologising in such a profuse way that is sufficient. But certainly she needs to be very careful in terms of what she says in the future.”

Earlier Taoiseach Leo Varadkar also veered away from calling on her to resign. He said her apology was “genuine and heartfelt”.

“She’s accepted the comments she made were incentive and wrong. What’s important now is that it’s followed up on. From words must follows actions. And that involves full funding for the legacy inquests, it involves setting up the historical inquires team which has been committed to be the UK government.”

Mr Varadkar added: “And where there was wrongdoing by members of the security forces, whether it was north or south of the border they need to properly investigated and prosecuted if there is a case to be prosecuted.”

This comes as the Government confirmed they will not seek the resignation of Ms Bradley over her controversial remarks.

Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan said Mrs Bradley had admitted that what she had said was an error and he fundamentally disagreed with her comments.

But it was important that they should move on as she had a job of work to do and he trusted that she would do it to the best of her ability.

"I believe she realises herself that she was wrong and her statement was out of order.

"It is not a matter for me whether she stays in office", Mr Flanagan added.

He said he would not be calling for Mrs Bradley's resignation.

Online Editors

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