NI secretary 'profoundly sorry' after saying security forces killings were not crimes
Karen Bradley, Britain's Northern Ireland secretary, has said she is "profoundly sorry" for the "offence and hurt" she caused by suggesting that deaths caused by soldiers and police during the Troubles were not crimes.
She faced calls to resign after her comments on Wednesday, which sparked criticism from nationalist political leaders and victims of the security forces.
The Irish Government has also sought an explanation.
However, Downing Street said that Prime Minister Theresa May still has full confidence in her.
In her apology, Ms Bradley said her language was "wrong" and "deeply insensitive" to many of those who lost loved ones.
She said: "Yesterday, I made comments regarding the actions of soldiers during the Troubles. I want to apologise. I am profoundly sorry for the offence and hurt that my words have caused.
"The language was wrong and even though this was not my intention, it was deeply insensitive to many of those who lost loved ones.
"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."
Northern Ireland's former police ombudsman, Baroness Nuala O'Loan, urged Mrs May to seek Ms Bradley's resignation.
John Kelly, whose brother was killed on Bloody Sunday in 1972, dismissed Ms Bradley's apology as "too little, too late".
Mr Kelly told BBC Radio 4's 'The World At One': "What she said yesterday was a terrible, terrible statement. The families are very hurt.
"Her credibility has now gone, her impartiality has now gone. In my view, she should resign."
However, former Northern Ireland secretary Theresa Villiers said there was no need for Ms Bradley to resign. Ms Villiers told the BBC: "She made an error and she's corrected it and she's apologised."