Sister of IRA victim supports Bill
Proposed legislation to ban convicted killers from becoming special advisers at Stormont would signal that those bereaved in the Troubles were worthy of respect, the sister of an IRA victim has said.
The Bill to exclude those with serious criminal convictions from the post was introduced in the wake of Sinn Fein's appointment to the role of Mary McArdle, who was sentenced to life for the 1984 murder of magistrate's daughter Mary Travers.
In an emotional appearance before the Assembly committee scrutinising the suggested law change, Miss Travers' sister Ann urged MLAs to back the move.
"I do feel this Bill would be a signal for all victims, even for victims who are looking for answers elsewhere, it would be a very strong sign that actually victims are being supported," she said.
"There is a lot of conversation about how we deal with our past and how we deal with victims - well, one of my things would be: listen to victims, consider them and respect them."
Ms McArdle's appointment last year to the £60,000 a year position as special adviser to Sinn Fein Culture Minister Caral Ni Chuilin prompted a storm of controversy. The two women served time in jail together during the Troubles.
Ms Travers told members of the Finance and Personnel Committee that hearing news of the appointment was like being punched in the stomach and that she had since suffered flashbacks about her sister's murder.
"It was just something out of this world, I cannot emphasise how much that affected me," she said, fighting back tears.
Ms McArdle has since left the post of special adviser. Ms Travers claimed she had shown no remorse for her actions and reiterated her appeal for her or her colleagues in Sinn Fein to reveal who else was involved in her sister's murder.
The young school teacher was gunned down as she left mass in south Belfast. Her magistrate father Tom was badly injured in the attack.