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IRA victims urged to ask Tipperary International Peace Prize organisers not to give McGuinness award

By Staff Reporter

Victims of IRA terrorism are urging people to contact the organisers of an Irish peace prize after Martin McGuinness was nominated for the shortlist.

There is a growing campaign of opposition to the nomination of the former Deputy First Minister for the Tipperary International Peace Prize, which includes Nelson Mandela among its past winners.

Former IRA commander Mr McGuinness spent almost 10 years in the top office alongside three DUP leaders - the late Ian Paisley, Peter Robinson and Arlene Foster.

While the Londonderry republican's journey from guns to government has often been lauded, IRA victims and their families remain unconvinced that he is worthy of a major peace prize.

Among them is Ann Travers, whose 22-year-old sister Mary was shot dead by the IRA in south Belfast in 1984 as she walked home from Mass with her parents.

Later, the IRA said her death was "tragic and regrettable" and that her father Thomas, a Catholic magistrate, was the "legitimate target".

Over the weekend, Ms Travers said "a large number" of those opposed to Mr McGuinness' nomination emailed the Tipperary Peace Centre.

However, she said the centre emailed everyone back with the same response.

Ms Travers added: "Please can as many of you today email them to express why you think he shouldn't get it."

In what appears to be a standard response to those who complained about Mr McGuinness' nomination, the Tipperary Peace Convention stated: "Each year the convention seeks nominations from members of the public and from clubs or associations (non-political) for the award.

"An external body reviews the nominations and selects a shortlist for publication. Tipperary Peace Convention does not participate or interfere in this selection process.

"From the shortlisted six nominees Tipperary Peace Convention members select the recipient to receive the International Peace Award.

"In order to protect the independence of the process Tipperary Peace Convention does not enter into discussion on the merits or de-merits of any individual nominee who is shortlisted for the award. To do so would be to effectively compromise the eventual final selection process.

"We do however appreciate and understand your comments and concerns and assure you that they are duly noted.

"We also wish to assure you that the final selection process will be one that is completely independent and fair and considerate of all aspects that one would consider worthy of being a recipient of the Tipperary International Peace Award.

"You will understand therefore that we are not in a position to enter into any further correspondence in relation to the nomination process."

It was not made clear where Mr McGuinness' nomination had come from, or who is on the panel that decides on the shortlist and winner.

Last year, the then outgoing First Minister Peter Robinson was nominated for the same peace prize - which was eventually handed to former US secretary of state John Kerry.

The 2011 award winners were former Irish president Mary McAleese and her husband, Martin McAleese, for their work promoting reconciliation in Northern Ireland.

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