'World caved in' over McArdle post

Published Wednesday, 21 November 2012
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The sister of an IRA victim has told MLAs her world caved in when she heard one of the people convicted in connection with her murder had been appointed to an advisory role at Stormont.

'World caved in' over McArdle post
Ann Travers speaking at Stormont. (© UTV)

Ann Travers appeared before a committee on Wednesday in support of proposed legislation that would block convicted killers from becoming special advisers at Stormont.

Her sister Mary was fatally shot as she left mass with her father, a judge, in Belfast in 1984.

Mary McArdle was sentenced to life behind bars that year for her part in the murder of the 22-year-old, but was released early under the Good Friday Agreement.

In May last year Ms McArdle was appointed to the post of special advisor to the Sinn Féin Culture Minister Carál Ní Chuilín.

In those few seconds my stomach heaved and I felt like I was going to be sick. My head whirled and I remember panicking and saying no, no, no. It was like I was being told Mary was dead again.

Ann Travers

On Wednesday, Ms Travers appeared before the Assembly's Finance and Personnel Committee.

The mother of five is undergoing treatment for cancer and wore headscarf as she addressed MLAs.

She told members that hearing of Ms McArdle's appointment to the £60,000 a year role was like being punched in the stomach, and caused her to suffer flashbacks to the murder.

"It was just something out of this world, I cannot emphasise how much that affected me," she said, during an emotional appearance in which she also appealed for Ms McArdle or her Sinn Féin colleagues to reveal who else was involved in her sister's murder.

"I found myself frozen reliving running down Winsor Avenue to my Mum leaning over my Dad saying my poor husband, my poor husband, somebody please help my poor husband.

"Dad mumbling and trying to take off his watch and Mary lying on the gravel."

She clashed with Sinn Fein's Mitchel McLaughlin over what she said was his attempts to justify IRA murders.

Mr McLaughlin replied: "If you only ask one side of the conflict to account for themselves then in effect you paralyse them because they are looking across the table and saying 'well who were we fighting, who was shooting at us, who threw the first stone or who drew the first baton'. There is history.

"Your mother and father went through a terrible experience and you've spoken eloquently about it. Your sister lost her life in that. But they were born, as we all were, into a society that was already divided and there is a long history here and we are trying to deal not with what Mary McArdle did as an individual, we are trying to deal with why weren't these issues addressed in the past."

The DUP's Paul Girvan said: "I think you have brought the focus back on to the victim which I feel is where the focus should be, not upon the perpetrators who seem to be the people who have been rewarded up to now as opposed to the victim."

Ann Travers came to Commitee to support the Special Advisers Bill which would prevent anyone who had served five years in prison from holding the £60,000 per year post.

"I do feel this Bill would be a signal for all victims, even for victims who are looking for answers elsewhere, it would be a very strong sign that actually victims are being supported," she said.

"There is a lot of conversation about how we deal with our past and how we deal with victims - well, one of my things would be: listen to victims, consider them and respect them."

The bill is likely to go before the Assembly by Spring next year.

© UTV News
Comments Comments
8 Comments
joe in belfast wrote (758 days ago):
of course there is a hierarchy of victims, terrorists killed on active duty as they call it, are in no way equal to innocent civilians murdered by scum.
Vee in Belfast wrote (758 days ago):
Mr McLaughlin should have used the proper terms when speaking of the late Mary Travers. Not 'Your sister lost her life' but 'your sister was murdered'. Ann Travers has brought the focus back to ALL the victims of murdering paramilitaries on both sides. If Ms McArdle sincerely wants a better future for Northern Ireland and peace to continue, she should name names of the others who were involved in murdering Ms Travers and the attempted murder of her parents! Keep up the good work Ann, May Mary and your Dad rest in peace, and good luck with the Cancer Treatment!
Nigel in Coleraine wrote (759 days ago):
No son just those who murdered and went behind bars for there heinous crimes On either side of the arguement shouldnt have any involvement in politics. It is whats wrong at the very core of this country. And I do mean any side
Alan in Londonderry wrote (759 days ago):
Look who is running gov
OldSod in Fermanagh wrote (759 days ago):
Ciaran, just imagine that one of the Bloody Sunday Paratroopers got a job tomorrow as a special adviser at Stormont for a political party,.... well do you think anybody in their right mind would find that acceptable no matter how qualified they were for the job? SO I think it is fair to say that some people are unacceptable because of their past,... no matter what flavour of war criminal/ terrorist they may have been! Yes I know that there are some very dodgy boys and girls working up on the hill, but they have some something called "plausible deny-ability" and that is enough for us all to pretend its okay! In the meantime, the less convicted killers hanging around the corridors of power, the better as far as I am concerned!
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