Belfast Telegraph

IRA bomber's school role 'progress'

The proposed appointment to a school board of a former IRA bomber jailed for killing a Metropolitan Police staff member is better than returning to years of violence, officers in the force have said.

Triple killer Paul Kavanagh was sentenced to five life terms for blowing up Chelsea Army Barracks in London in 1981 - but was released and went on to play a key role in political power-sharing in Northern Ireland, advising deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness.

An army bomb disposal officer working for the Met, Kenneth Howorth, was killed as he dealt with another IRA device at a restaurant in Oxford Street on October 26 1981.

The Metropolitan Police Federation said returning to the days of violence did nobody any good but added it did not necessarily agree with the likely appointment.

A spokesman said: "I think it is what we call progress. We don't necessarily agree with it but returning to the bad old days does no one any good and we just have to live with it."

DUP Stormont Assembly member Jonathan Craig condemned the planned appointment. "I find it incredibly insensitive of the minister and would ask the department to consider the appointment of anyone with a criminal record to the board of governors of any school," he said.

Bomb disposal expert Mr Howorth, 51, was posthumously awarded the George medal for gallantry.

The married father-of-two, born near Rochdale in Lancashire, served in the army for 23 years, reaching the rank of warrant officer. He was in the Royal Army Ordnance Corps and saw service in Austria, Japan, Tripoli and later Hong Kong.

Mr Kavanagh has been put forward by Stormont's Department of Education (DE) minister John O'Dowd to sit on the board of governors of Lumen Christi College in Londonderry. The board helps monitor the school's performance and set its plans and policies

Gerry Kindlon, a member of the school's board, said: "I would not have been consulted on it or anything, I have never met the guy, I do not know anything about his past or his background."

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