Belfast Telegraph

Suzanne Breen: Karen Bradley is inept, ineffective and inane... she has now lost all her credibility

Suzanne Breen

By Suzanne Breen

Given the recent succession of unexceptional Secretaries of State, Karen Bradley is quite extraordinary. Extraordinarily inept, inane and ineffective.

When Mrs Bradley isn't adopting a gutless approach to the ongoing political paralysis at Stormont and the unjustifiable MLA wages bill, she is blundering her way through matters she clearly knows nothing about.

Her claim that security force killings in Northern Ireland weren't crimes is factually inaccurate, grossly offensive, and utterly undermines any bridge-building that the government has been doing with nationalists.

It would be bad enough if it was an off-the-cuff remark. But this was a statement in the House of Commons in reply to a question from DUP MP Emma Little-Pengelly.

If the Secretary of State is as clueless about Northern Ireland history as she herself has admitted, the same must surely be said about those who are employed to advise her.

Shadow Secretary of State Tony Lloyd said that if she didn't apologise for her comments she risked "losing the credibility the Secretary of State needs". He was being far too generous. The one thing that unites all Northern Ireland's political parties is that Mrs Bradley doesn't have any credibility to lose.

The DUP may be with her on legacy, but the party is as unimpressed by her on almost everything else as Sinn Fein, the Ulster Unionists, SDLP and Alliance.

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Nine years ago David Cameron made an unambiguous apology for Bloody Sunday. In her first statement, Mrs Bradley was effectively saying the soldiers who shot dead 14 innocent civilians did no wrong. That her comment came just a week before the PPS's decision on prosecutions is announced is breathtakingly clumsy.

Given the gravity of the situation, her "clarification" fell well short of what was required to put things right. Her words poison the atmosphere around the government's legacy consultation.

As Relatives for Justice stated, the overwhelming majority of the 364 people killed by the state - including 82 children - were unarmed and civilians.

Meanwhile, Sinn Fein is calling for the Secretary of State to resign. With the Provisional IRA's record on truth and transparency, it will be understandably argued that it is no position to lecture anyone on justice issues.

But those who believe that Mrs Bradley is doing more harm than good in her role stretches way beyond that party's ranks.

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