Belfast Telegraph

Troubles victims back calls for trauma centre as an alternative to Maze

BY LIAM CLARKE

Campaigner Ann Travers has thrown her weight behind a proposal for a trauma centre for both victims and survivors of the Troubles to replace the Maze Peace and Reconciliation Centre.

Stephen Gault, whose father Sammy died beside him in the Enniskillen Remembrance Day bombing of 1987, also said he supported the idea.

Ms Travers said she would promote the idea on the Victims Forum, of which she is a member. And she added that she "wouldn't have a problem" if she met Mary McArdle, an IRA woman who took part in the murder of her sister Mary, in the waiting room or car park if they were both attending the centre for treatment.

"If I was asked I would be most happy to join a committee or help promote this idea," she said.

"That wouldn't be a problem. I think it might even be a good healing process if I saw her seeking help," Ms Travers said.

She added "trauma doesn't leave one person out".

"In my view there would be no problem there because it is going to be in a neutral space where there can be no egos and we are all equal. These people (former prisoners) must be suffering trauma too.

"If I had been involved in the murder of somebody or an incident where somebody lost their life I know I would be suffering as well, perhaps as much as I am now. It would be a sign of compassion and shared humanity to see someone was experiencing regret and trauma over what they had done. This is an excellent idea."

Ms Travers led a high-profile campaign to have Ms McArdle sacked as special adviser to Caral Ni Chuilin, the Culture Minister.

Ms Travers is far from over the trauma caused by the murderous attack on her parents and sister. She still sometimes dreams about being shot in her bed.

She revealed that she had also suffered from an eating disorder after the 1984 murder of her sister by a hit squad which Ms McArdle had helped by concealing and moving the murder weapons.

Ms Travers and Mr Gault spoke at a fringe meeting organised by Innocent Victims United at the UUP conference. The group also intends to hold meetings at the DUP, Alliance and SDLP conferences, said Kenny Donaldson, a spokesman. He said that requesting a meeting at the Sinn Fein ard fheis had been considered "but won't be happening for now".

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