Grieving Ann Travers recalls the Ian Paisley hug that meant so much after IRA gunned down her sister
Published 21/01/2014 | 15:00
The sister of a teacher gunned down by the IRA in the 1980s has recalled the "human side" of Ian Paisley in the aftermath of her family tragedy.
Victims campaigner Ann Travers, whose 22-year-old sister Mary was shot dead in 1984 following Mass in Belfast, says that as a 14-year-old stunned by bereavement, a hug she received from Mr Paisley meant a lot to her and was a sign of "early reconciliation".
Ann's sister Mary was fatally wounded in the ambush and her magistrate father Tom was badly injured after being shot six times.
Last night Ann said she felt compelled to share her memory of Ian Paisley visiting her family home in light of the controversy surrounding the BBC documentary.
"A couple of days after Mary's murder, dad was still in hospital and (UUP leader) James Molyneaux had called.
"My grandfather was talking to him and the next thing I saw Reverend Ian Paisley walking up the drive with police bodyguards. We were all shocked, especially with all the anti-Catholic things he had been saying.
"We prayed together for Mary and for my dad and as he was going he was shaking everyone's hand.
"I put my hand out and he gave me a huge hug. For me, at that age, with all the violence, bigotry and sectarianism, that really left a lasting memory."
Ann said she disagreed with many things Lord Bannside had said over the years, but she added this occasion "showed his human side."