Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 21 September 2014

Murder victim's sister refuses Sinn Fein meeting offer

Sinn Fein has attempted to set up a face-to-face meeting between the sister of an IRA murder victim and Stormont Minister Caral Ni Chuilin.

But Ann Travers, who is demanding the removal of the minister's special adviser Mary McArdle over her involvement in her sister Mary's murder, has rebuffed the approach.

Ms McArdle was imprisoned for her role in the Provisional's attack on Magistrate Tom Travers and his family more than 25 years ago - in which Mrs Travers' sister Mary was killed - but freed under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement.

The offer of a one-to-one meeting was made before it emerged - as revealed in yesterday's Belfast Telegraph - that Mrs Travers has suffered a miscarriage.

The suggestion from Sinn Fein was made through a local priest but Mrs Travers said she saw little point unless the party was prepared to take some action in relation to Ms McArdle, who has voiced her regret for the killing in 1984.

Culture Arts and Leisure Minister Ms Ni Chuilin made no comment but Sinn Fein confirmed the move and said the offer still stands. Mrs Travers, however, said she was also concerned the offer was about the party being seen to be doing something, but was told Ms Ni Chuilin wanted to meet her "woman to woman".

The mother-of-five also hit back at comments by deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness in a Belfast Telegraph interview in which he said: "If people think that Mary McArdle was appointed simply to annoy people or cause antagonism, nothing could be further from the truth."

And she also wanted to respond to Ms McArdle's article in the Andersonstown News in which she said in taking up the post she was fully aware that her past might be brought up by sections of the media.

Mrs Travers argued: "Why do Sinn Fein not consider victims when making appointments? If this appointment had been made in any other country and had caused the amount of emotion and hurt that it has, someone would be sacked by now.

"If Martin McGuinness and his colleagues were aware that this appointment would cause upset then questions must be asked.

"Are they so full of their own self-worth that they no longer consider the public that they serve or those victims whom they dis-empowered during the Troubles and continue to do so today in 2011 when they are ignored?"

Background

Sinn Fein has pledged to oppose "discriminatory" security vetting in the aftermath of the controversial appointment of Mary McArdle as special adviser to Culture Minister Caral Ni Chuilin. The party insisted: "Security vetting has been used in the past to make positions in government, including those in the senior civil service, the preserve of one section of the community." But Finance Minister Sammy Wilson, tasked with drawing up new guidelines - which still to be agreed by the Executive - said ministers should have to justify decisions in choosing individuals. Ms McArdle was convicted of the IRA murder of Mary Travers.

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