SF defends ex-prisoner appointment
The Sinn Féin MLA appointed as junior minister at Stormont has said her experience as a republican prisoner will be a “good thing” to bring to the role.
Tuesday, 12 June 2012
Jennifer McCann replaces Martina Anderson in the ministerial job, which includes responsibility for victims of the Troubles.
She is the third ex-prisoner in a row to occupy the role, which was also previously held by Gerry Kelly.
The mother of three served around half of a 20 year sentence in the early 1980s for the attempted murder of a police officer.
The West Belfast MLA started her jail term days after fellow prisoner Bobby Sands began the 66-day hunger strike that ended his life.
I worked for victims of state violence and families who have been victims of collusion, and I will work with all victims in the same way.
TUV leader Jim Allister said Ms McCann's appointment "underscores the depravity of Stormont political arrangements".
"Martina Anderson - who was convicted of conspiring to cause explosions - has been replaced by another terrorist who was sentenced to 20 years for shooting an RUC officer and is on record as describing Bobby Sands as a 'great role model'," he said.
Ulster Unionist leader Mike Nesbitt: "This simply underscores the need to deal with our past and its living legacy."
Ms McCann, who has worked with the victims group An Fhirinne to highlight the impact of state violence, said she is bringing "life experience in this role to work for everyone".
"I am a former republican prisoner and I think that, like Martina, I will bring with me those experiences that I have had through conflict resolution, and through the peace process, and I hope then towards building reconciliation as well.
"So I hope that I will bring all those experiences and that will be a good thing."
Ms McCann was appointed as junior minister after Ms Anderson left the Assembly to become an MEP, replacing Bairbre de Brun, who stood down from the European Parliament for health reasons.
One of the first issues the new junior minister will address after taking up her political post will be the setting up of the Assembly's inquiry into child abuse.