ON June 15, 2010, the new Prime Minister David Cameron stood up in the House of Commons to make a statement on the day of the publication of the Saville Inquiry report into Bloody Sunday. Sandwiched between George Osborne and Nick Clegg (those were the days of coalition government), Cameron made an unequivocal apology for the actions of the Parachute Regiment in Derry-Londonderry on January,30, 1972 when they opened fire on civil rights demonstrators, killing 13 people and injuring a further 15.

“What happened on Bloody Sunday was both unjustified and unjustifiable,” the Prime Minister told the Commons. “It was wrong.”

In Guildhall Square in Derry a huge crowd had gathered that day. They watched Cameron’s statement on a large screen in the square. And they cheered a Tory Prime Minister for his words. Not something that can have happened too many times in the city.

In the Guildhall that day was John Kelly. His 17-year-old brother Michael had been one of those killed on Bloody Sunday. When I met him in the Museum of Free Derry in the Bogside three years later, Kelly said the report and the apology had made a difference. “There was definitely healing," he told me. "It was like a massive dark cloud was lifted.”

Read More: New dawn in Derry?

I’ve been thinking of both John Kelly and David Cameron a lot over the last couple of days since an inquest led by Mrs Justice Keegan ruled that the 10 people killed in Ballymurphy in West Belfast in August 1971 were “entirely innocent of any wrongdoing on the day in question.”

The inquest found that nine of the 10 victims had been shot by British soldiers (an open verdict was returned on the tenth). It ended a campaign for justice by the families of the victims that has gone on for the best part of 50 years.

That was Wednesday. It took another 24 hours before the Northern Ireland Minister Brandon Lewis finally stood up in the Commons to make a statement about the inquest’s findings.

Unfortunately, his boss, the Prime Minister was nowhere to be seen. Boris Johnson has so far, we are told, apologised to Northern Ireland’s First Minister and the Deputy First Minister in a phone call on Wednesday. Downing Street then issued a public statement of apology that evening.

Read More: No Oscar? You're not getting in

Johnson has since written personally to the families of the Ballymurphy victims. But the fact that the Prime Minister has not stood up in public so far and acknowledged the inquest findings has angered many of them.

Public apologies matter. They do not end the grief and suffering of those who lost friends and family members. But acknowledgment can be a consolation. In Northern Ireland far too many families who have lost loved ones, mostly at the hands of republican and loyalist paramilitaries, deserve that consolation.

Leadership matters too. David Cameron’s record in and out of government is for the most part a sorry one, but his quick response to the Saville Inquiry at least rose to the occasion. Would that we could say the same about the current Prime Minister who seems to be intent on avoiding doing the same. Even if he does speak out now it will be too late. His lack of public response is, I’m afraid, all too eloquent.

Leaders lead from the front. They don’t hide away and leave the difficult jobs to others. Unless they are called Boris Johnson, it seems.