Tributes as murder bid magistrate laid to rest
Published 30/12/2009 | 02:06
Senior figures from the legal profession gathered in Strangford yesterday morning to say their final farewells to the Belfast magistrate who survived a murder attempt in the 1980s.
Tom Travers died on Boxing Day following a long-term illness at his home in Holywood.
He survived a murder attempt in April 1984 as he left Mass at St Brigid’s Church in south Belfast with his wife Joan and 22-year-old daughter Mary, who died in the attack.
Mr Travers was shot six times and was so seriously injured he was unable to attend his daughter’s funeral. Yesterday he was laid to rest alongside her after Requiem Mass at St Malachy’s Church in Kilclief, Strangford.
Lord Chief Justice Declan Morgan and Belfast Recorder Judge Tom Burgess were among the mourners, along with former Legal Minister in the Northern Ireland Parliament and first Alliance leader Oliver Napier, and solicitors Paschal O’Hare, Paddy Donnelly and Denis Maloney.
South Belfast SDLP MP Alasdair McDonnell, who also attended the funeral, was Mr Travers’ GP for many years and said he counted him as a friend.
“Tom was remembered for his deep Christian faith despite the horror of the attack that killed his daughter Mary,” he said.
“He never lost his sense of decency, of Christian charity and legal sense of fairness even though he probably never got over the loss of his daughter.”
The tributes continued to pour in for the former magistrate last night with barrister and Traditional Unionist Voice leader Jim Allister describing him as “heroic”.
“Tom was quite the character on the bench with his own unique approach,” he said.
“Not known for high acquittal rates, he liked to get his man.
“The heroic way in which he rose above the tragic murder of his daughter and his own injuries was the measure of the man.”
Solicitor Tom Campbell of Stafford Campbell said he had found Mr Travers always to be “firm but fair”.