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Ann Travers: 'The day my sister was killed by evil men 32 years ago is with me forever'

By Cate McCurry

Published 09/04/2016

Mary Travers who was shot dead by the IRA in 1984
Mary Travers who was shot dead by the IRA in 1984
Mary Travers who was shot dead by the IRA in 1984
Ann Travers
Parents Thomas and Joan Travers

A woman whose sister was murdered by the IRA has said the image of her sibling dying in the street is a scene "burnt onto my mind".

Ann Travers' sister Mary was shot dead by the IRA in south Belfast on April 8, 1984, as she walked home from Mass with her father, Thomas, a judge who was the intended victim.

Yesterday, Ann, who was 14 at the time of the murder, marked the 32nd anniversary of her sister's death.

Describing one of their last conversations, she said that the pair had discussed Ann's homework.

"She said 'Hello Ann' and was her usual cheery self, but I just grunted at her when she said she would help me with my homework. I feel sad that I didn't have a lovely conversation with her but instead I was being a typical grumpy teenager."

An advocate for Troubles victims, she said she remembers the events of that day vividly. "Everything from that day, from the moment I got up that morning to midnight when mum came home from hospital, is forever with me."

She posted to her Facebook page how "evil men" gunned down her family as they walked home from Mass. She said: "This day 32 years ago, unbeknown to my family the IRA were coming to murder us. Dad, Mum and Mary went to Mass together and left the service full of joy, hope and our Lord in their hearts. As they walked home full of chat and laughter, (200 yards approximately from our house), evil men gunned them down and an evil woman was waiting to spirit their guns and disguises away. They left Mary dying on the dirty street and Dad critically injured, fighting for his life with six bullets in his body, Mum kneeling over him, gunpowder and a burn down her face, the only sign that her life had been saved by the gun jamming.

"I was 14 and came upon this madness after my brothers heard the gunshots. It is a scene burnt onto my mind, it is not my history, it is my present, the lasting gift the IRA left me, including the words uttered by Danny Morrison, the Sinn Fein press officer at the time and recorded forever in the Belfast Telegraph: 'Miss Travers' death was regrettable but understandable as her father is a member of the British judiciary'. These words haunted my father and didn't end his feelings of guilt that he couldn't protect his precious Mary after she shouted a warning.

"Today I'm celebrating Mary's life. I'm heading into Dublin to meet my eldest son, Sean, and we will visit the National Gallery, then go to a coffee shop for a slice of strawberry cheesecake, Mary's favourite. I thank God that Dad had a peaceful death on the December 26, 2009, in his own bed, surrounded by his family, which was more dignified than the death the IRA and those who support them and SF still wished on him today as they continue to justify his murder attempt."

Belfast Telegraph

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