Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 24 May 2016

Sinn Fein fundraiser's partner slammed over Ann Travers tweet

By Lesley Houston

Published 07/01/2016

Ann Travers
Ann Travers
The offensive tweet Kelly posted yesterday
Catherine Kellywith Mairtin O Muilleoir
Catherine Kelly with Danny Morrison and Michelle O’Neill

The partner of the head of a US-based Sinn Fein fundraising group has been condemned for suggesting that a woman whose sister was murdered by the IRA was not fighting cancer.

Ann Travers, whose sister Mary was shot dead in 1984, said she was "deeply distressed" by remarks on Twitter by Catherine Kelly, from the New York-based Friends of Sinn Fein (FoSF) organisation.

Ms Kelly, partner of FoSF president Jim Cullen, wrote: "Ann Travers made a fool of herself stomping off Twitter in a fanfare then returning with her 'cancer' explanation. I rightly called her on it."

The comment appeared to call into question Ms Travers' high-profile battle with breast cancer, which spread to her bowel before being successfully removed.

She decided to go public with her illness to highlight the symptoms to other women.

Among those to send her messages of support last night was DUP leader Arlene Foster.

Ms Foster, who will be appointed First Minister later this month, said Kelly's words had been motivated by the fact she was "unnerved and unsettled by you and what you stand for".

"To paraphrase Winston Churchill, I have enemies? Good, that means I have stood up for something," the First-Minister-in-waiting added.

Ms Travers wrote on Facebook about how she had quit Twitter in 2014 "after months of trolling from IRA/SF supporters".

"The IRA and SF have done enough to me, I don't need their 'friends' carrying on the abuse," she added.

Ms Travers had been mercilessly taunted for her opposition to the appointment of Mary McArdle - who had been convicted in connection with 22-year-old Ann's murder - as special adviser to Sinn Fein's Culture Minister Caral Ni Chuilin.

She had also "endured a couple of years of cancer treatment" at the time, and a friend had died from lung cancer. "I was emotionally drained," she wrote, going into detail about how the disease had ravaged her body.

Ms Travers was also targeted by online trolls for backing Mairia Cahill after the west Belfast woman revealed how she had been raped by an IRA man before the terror group forced her to confront him in a kangaroo court.

Journalist Ruth Dudley Edwards described Ms Kelly, who has been photographed with leading members of Sinn Fein, such as former Belfast Lord Mayor Mairtin O Muilleoir and Agriculture Minister Michelle O'Neill, as "abusive in a dreary, pettifogging, parochial way and is beneath contempt".

Mairia Cahill revealed she "complained to SF and told them - I do not believe she [Kelly] is acting on a solo run".

Sinn Fein declined to comment on the incident.

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