Belfast Telegraph

Friday 25 July 2014

Ann Travers: I will not be silenced until my sister's killer resigns

The sister of a teacher gunned down by the IRA in 1984 has vowed that she will not be silenced until the woman convicted of the murder resigns from her Stormont job.

Ann Travers (42) insists that she is not political but has been forced into the public domain by Mary McArdle's appointment as special adviser to Sinn Fein Culture Minister Caral Ni Chuilin.

Ms Travers' sister Mary was shot dead and her magistrate father, Tom Travers, badly injured when they were ambushed as they emerged from Mass in Belfast.

Mr Travers was shot six times in front of his wife, Joan, and his daughter was fatally wounded in the back.

Mary McArdle (46) was jailed over her role in the killing but later released as part of the 1998 Good Friday peace agreement. She has publicly stated she regretted the murder and did not believe anything she said could ease the family's grief.

But speaking to the Belfast Telegraph Ms Travers slammed her comments and demanded she resign.

"I've sat back over the years and watched the news and seen Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness and it was difficult enough to see them in authority, but things had to move on.

"And there are certain things you have to accept, but there comes a point when you just have to say 'stop and consider the other people you are hurting'."

Ms Travers said she "respects" the fact Ms McArdle and ex-prisoners are entitled to work but felt the need to speak out for her sister and father -who died 18 months ago.

"I would hope that they would have respect for the victim's families and other people who have been hurt.

"They [the IRA] attempted to take away my dad that day and they think it was all right. They justified it by saying 'nobody intended to shoot Mary Travers, we just intended to shoot her father'.

"That was not right. That was my dad. I think they [Sinn Fein] would like me to really keep quiet and go away. But I'm here, and to quote Gerry Adams where he said the IRA hasn't gone away you know- the victims haven't gone away either."

Ms Travers added she had "no intentions" of meeting members of Sinn Fein.

"Sinn Fein is a political machine, I'm not political at all and I don't want to be dragged into the political arguments. For them it is political, for me it is personal.

"When she got this appointment and it was made so publicly it brought everything back to me, so many emotions, the grief and the sense of loss I feel for my sister and the sense of injustice I feel for her, my dad and my mum."

The mother of five, who no longer lives in Northern Ireland, said she has been overwhelmed by the support from other victims.

"People started to get in touch with me and said 'you are brave for speaking up'. I don't feel I'm brave at all."

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